A Cracked Ceramic Tile Covered in Smuckers Strawberry Preservatives That Somehow Isn’t My Fault


come-fly-with-me-tom-roderick

I sat in my living room and wondered where they day went.

That’s not true. Let’s try something else.

I sat in my living room and wondered why I so adamantly avoided working on my novel.

No. That’s no untrue, but it isn’t… accurate.

What really happened was that it was eight and I was sitting on my couch, staring out the sliding glass doors at the Agora and wondering why I spent all day playing World of Warcraft when I didn’t really have too much fun doing it.

“Come on. I’ll run you through some dungeons,” James had told me.

“Okay,” I said, though I knew neither of us really wanted to do it.

We did it anyway.

It was just something to do.

I understood, then, why people smoke crystal meth.

Modern life. It’s boring.

It’s the good sort of boring. The sort of boring that comes from not having to climb up a mountain and find a flower to cure grandma’s cough. It’s the sort of boring that doesn’t have to worry about bears carrying off the youngest, or defending the farmstead from bandits, or securing an alliance with Poland by marrying your daughter to some duke, or even finding a meal.

I have a freezer full of El Monterrey burritos.

My toilet weeps.

No.

It’s a boredom that comes from not having to worry about anything, really. You worry about money and bills and existential happiness and other stuff like that but it’s not tangible. The minute clinic isn’t going to break my kneecaps if I didn’t send them a check for twenty three dollars, even though it would be good for repeat business.

Can you imagine if doctors offices had rewards programs? Like you swipe your Blue Cross rewards card and every twelve kidney stones you get a face lift for free?

God, I should have gone into marketing.

I coudln’t get anything written but I really wanted to write something so I stood and I threw open the sliding glass door and some sort of cute, clean guitar drum combo started playing like I was in a Wes Anderson film and I leapt off the balcony for a quick fly.

There I was, soaring over the San Fernando Valley like I was the Big Lebowski and this cup of chamomile tea was my bowling ball.

The rectangular, segmented blocks lit up like neurons. If the grid of the SFV was someone’s brain I think it would a pretty bad brain. It probably belonged to a food service employee, slightly chemically damaged from a bad joint back when it was in high school. The owner of the brain would live with her parents. She never suffers too much for any of the increasingly poor decisions she makes.

It’s not her fault.

Honestly.

She just got a bad brain.

It was cold up there and I wished I had brought a cardigan or maybe my bath robe but, on second thought, I didn’t want anyone at the observatory to see me and draw an even stronger Lebowski comparison.

I mean, I love the movie, but that’s not why I decided to go for a short fly.

I was really just avoiding work.

I landed up in the mountains and punched a goat in the head.

Well, that’s not all that happened. I just don’t want to get into it but trust me, he had it coming.

It’s strange, up there in the mountains. On one side you get a great view of the biggest city in the whole word, you get a great view of a place that day in and day out for many, many people is there whole world, but on the other side you see black. Darkness. Emptiness. Nothing.

They say one day humans are going to live in mega skyscrapers. Each one as big as a city.The world will be 99.999% wilderness and the billions of us will just live in these impossible, monolithic structures.

Well, not everyone. Sure, you’d get those conspiracy theory nuts and rugged individualists and they’d live out in the woods like savages but hey, man, from the 6987th floor of the Los Angeles tower they just look like ants.

I followed an ambulance down magnolia for a good hour, mimicking its sounds and pretending I was doing something useful. Like I was part of the crew and people’s lives hung in the balance.

I’m not, though. I’m just sitting on my house playing my stereo too loud and avoiding doing anything useful by writing a blog post about it.

The sad thing is that I’ve done it before.

Bah. I’m too lazy to swing at that. Go find the links yourself.

It’s so easy to drop out of doing something you love just by not bothering to do it.

So here I am, drawn back into the whirlwind, flying around in a spinning, windy circle with some barns and some cows and some trees and a pitchfork or two and hey, whoa, man, there goes a wicked witch and a slightly less wicked witch and a mean witch who thinks she’s nice and a nice witch who thinks she’s mean and a mean witch who knows she’s mean and the smart witch who is just trying to figure out why the fuck there are always so many witches in a tornado, metaphorical or otherwise.

Oh, and the whirlwind is me at nine o’ clock trying not to work on my novel.

And the witches are something else.

I’ll let you know when they figure it out.

Yeesh, what a mess.

But there it is.

I’m blogging again.

remove-jam-stains-from-carpet-video-and-tips-21244017

Tiny, little flickerings


1406656622-venue-bedrock

I play music in a place called Bedrock, L.A.

It’s in Echo Park.

I play music in a part of town with Echo in its name.

I think Bedrock used to be some sort of factory. There’s an old-timey conveyor belt installed next to the metal stairs that lead to the second floor. Rob told me you can put your gear on it and it will convey it to the top for you.

I didn’t believe him. I think it doesn’t work.

Bedrock has dozens of practice rooms. It also has a game room with pinball, video games and air hockey and a professional recording studio. There’s a front office where you can buy strings, rent gear and pay a dollar for shitty earplugs.

I always pay a dollar because I always forget where I left my shitty earplugs I bought the last time.

My favorite thing about Bedrock is when you first walk in. The parking lot is full of cars. If you park behind a car you have to let the office know where you will be so you can move if the person in front of you needs to leave.

All of the cars are beat up and old. That’s how you know real musicians come here.

You see all sorts of people hanging out at the picnic tables on the loading dock. Grunge guys, death metal, electro-pop. folk, and even some traditional mexican music groups. They all hang out and smoke and drink and are pretty friendly.

I like saying hi to whoever’s there, but that’s not the best part.

The best part is walking to our room.

Our practice room is on the second floor, so we have to carry my gear through the labyrinthine first floor, up the stairs and then through the long hallways of the second floor until we finally get to room 85.

Since bedrock is predominantly a practice space, none of the rooms are very sound proof. You can hear everything everyone is playing. All the sounds, the rhythms, the melodies, the lyrics. You can hear the collaboration and the fights. The arguments and the “dude, that was sweet”s.

You can hear the music.

That’s not my favorite part.

My favorite part is imaging what’s behind the door.

Who’s in the rooms.

I carry my amp past an orange door. Electronic music that sounds like a west coast CHVRCHES blasts through the cracks, and then , as if through a porthole, I see two women standing at synthesizers.

They’re dressed in ragged tank tops, black and white, and have half their heads shaved. One of them wears a lot of bracelets. The other one has tattoos.

They bob up and down with the music, turning knobs and pressing buttons in perfects synchronization. They never look at each other. They don’t say anything. They’re familiar with each other. More than familiar.

The song ends and the hug. It’s a familiar hug. More than familiar?

They might kiss then, but I don’t think they do. They’re too excited. The new track rules. I heard it through the door and I agree. It does rule.

They laid on their ratty, red couch the light before. Bracelets’ head was in tattoo’s lap. Tattoo had a legal pad and they were writing down lyrics.

Lyrics or poetry? What’s the difference. I’m not sure.

They’re not fighting. Not this night. They’re synchronized, just like they will be the night before. Tattoo says something funny and bracelets hits her. It’s a gentle hit.A familiar one.

The music…

It reminds me of a time I stood on top of a giant rock in St. Andrews, Scotland. I wore a trench coat and a red scarf. It was a nice day and so I my coat unzipped.

I hated zipping it up. My coat was tan. I always thought people would think I was a flasher.

There were just enough clouds in the sky to be gorgeous and I looked along the coastline.

My, how different it was from Florida. Florida is full of things, and it’s beautiful because of them. Scotland is full of nothing and beautiful because of it. A friend of mine once got mad at me because I told him Scotland was more beautiful than Hawaii.

“Hawaii has palm trees and waterfalls and volcanoes and is green! It’s gorgeous. What does Scotland have?”

“None of that,” I answered. I took a bite of the Thai red curry I was eating.

“Exactly,” He said. I think he crossed his arms.

“Exactly,” I agreed. He made a face, and I smiled.

They start up a new song and my hand gets tired. I shift the amp to my left arm and keep going.

I pass another door. Drums blast through the cheap wood. A syncopated beat. Bum bum bum BAP bum, bumbumbumbumbum BAP bum. Ratta ta tatta ta tatta ta bum bum bum BAP bum, bumbumbumbumbum BAP bum.

I hear the clack of sticks slamming down on the snare’s rim and someone yelling “fuck”.

He’s got long hair, not because he likes it, but because he doesn’t have time for hair. He doesn’t have time for anything except his job. That’s why he’s somehow both thin in some spots like his arms but overweight in other spots like his waist.

He’s an accountant and he’s been putting in the extra hours because Kate had told him there was talk of giving him a promotion. He stayed at his desk so late for so long that the light bulb burned out of his lamp. The whole office was dark and he had to wander around using his phone as a flashlight until he found the office supplies and got a new light bulb.

He could only find a fluorescent. He hated the slightly green light it throws over his spreadsheets, but he knew that he’d have his own office soon and could put whatever lights he wanted in there.

His girlfriend wouldn’t stop calling him. He didn’t answer. He had to get the spreadsheets done. He just avoided her.

He couldn’t avoid her when he got home at two AM. Well, he didn’t actually see her. He saw her note, though, and the angry, jagged writing. He saw the wet spots on the paper, and he went into the bathroom and saw the extra space, saw that half the sink was now empty, saw a small colony of bacteria that until three hours ago was hidden by the charging station for her electric toothbrush.

He took the next day off work and rented out a practice space.

He hadn’t played drums for years.

Not since high school, when he and his friends would sit in the attic and smoke weed and listen to led zeppelin in the dark and dream about the future. It was easy back then. It was too easy. All he did was dream.

He bangs on the drums so hard I worry he’s going to pierce the floor tom’s head.

That’s none of my business, though.

Hell, it might not even be real.

Rob and I make it up to our room and we play our hearts out. The stress of the week melts away. I float in the freedom of not worrying about my book, not worrying about my bills, not worrying about if I never make it as a writer, not worrying about being single, not worrying about getting my teeth fixed, not worrying about anything but rhythm and scales and math and tone and fuzz and fucking crushing heads.

Rob and I come up with a new song and, from that song, come up with what we actually want our band to be. “It’s black Sabbath mixed with Zep mixed with Pentagram and Graveyard and High on Fire.”

“Basically everything we like,” I agree.

“It’s like party music for the seventies,” Rob says, “but at a cool house party.”

“I want people in pool halls to fight each other when this song comes on,” I agree.

“What?” Rob makes a face.

“But in a cool way,” I clarify.

He laughs.

There’s a knock on our door.

I open the door. A scary ogre stands in front of me. He’s got a beard down to his belt and a shaved head. Leather vest and wife beater. Tattoos everywhere.

He does a quick double take. I just stare at him.

“You guys sound good,” he says.

“Thanks.”

“You don’t really look like what I thought you’d look like.”

Rob and I look at each other. “How’d you think we’d look.”

He shrugs. “I was listening at the door. I didn’t want to interrupt the jam. Just thought you’d look… different.”

“Oh,”

“You parked behind me. Could you move your car?” He asked this in the nicest way possible.

Rob nodded.

The tree of us left the room and walked down the long hallway and through the labyrinth below. Music drifted all around us. We’d sometimes stop and listen at the doors, each of us imagining a different thing behind them, but each of us enjoying the same music.

We didn’t say anything.

We just shut our eyes and listened.

Listened in the dark of our own eyelids.

Listened and dreamed.

Led Zeppelin

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