Electronic Blast from the past!


.

This morning, I got an email from Kristy, an old friend whom I worked with in high school. The email said she tagged me in a photo.

I furrowed my brow and thought, “If this is one of those cheesy pictures in which she tagged a thousand other people in plus me, I’ll be … REALLY angry.”

I surfed over to Facebook to find the above shot of me playing the bass guitar.

Look at those brown, chicken legs!

Back in high school, my brother Jon had a band. Jon was (and still is) a singer/songwriter.

Jon’s main influences came from bands like U2, which often integrated Christian lyrics, but they were primarily secular with a secular audience.

After Jon graduated from high school, his goal was to have a successful band. Jon and his band went through a couple bass players. And they finally thought, let’s teach Jer how to play. In my sophomore year of high school, I became the bass player for a band called “Creamy Velour.”

Creamy Velour was the name of a character in a poem Jon wrote about a guy who went to heaven. Even if that’s not where the name came from, that’s what my mind is telling me.

The moment the band asked me to play, I went into perfectionist mode. I scraped up some money. I bought a bass guitar and a bass amp. I practiced all the time. I grew out my hair trying to look the part. The shot above is pre-long hair.

We didn’t have any gigs lined up except for playing for friends at first.

One day at a party, I met a guy who was starting a small club. I told him I was in a band, and we ended up getting booked for our first gig. We moved up to better venues throughout my career with Creamy Velour. Once we played at a biker bar using equipment that cost more than my parents paid for our home. Another time we drove five hours to Myrtle Beach, flyered around the main boardwalk, played a gig, watched the headliner and drove back the same night. It was brutal, and possibly one of the funnest nights of my life.

Carpe Diem 

Playing bass in Creamy Velour was my glory days. I loved it. My modus operandi while playing was “This could be my last time ever to perform on stage, so give it all you got.”

I loved being on stage, and before I knew it, all the shyness that I had growing up floated out the window and I became a stage junkie. I tried to be as entertaining as anyone I’ve ever seen on stage.

The demise of my music career came when I met my first girlfriend one night at a Creamy show. A Creamy groupie brought a friend named Wendy one night, and after the groupie accused me of liking Wendy, we started seeing each other.

After high school, Wendy was going to go to college, and she influenced me to go off to college too. Otherwise, I would have stayed home and gone to a community college, stayed in the band, and probably never moved away from home. When I told the band about my plans, they fired me. I have a fiery temper, and back then, it was even fiery-er.

There are some very embarrassing moments I’m not proud of. One time, my brother promised me that I could play one song with the band on stage at a show before going off to college. I arrived at the venue with my best friend and Wendy ready to play my supposed last hurrah. I went in  Jon told me the band changed their mind and I wouldn’t be able to play.

I ended up getting on stage while they were playing and yelling profanities and hate to the entire band, all through tears and snot flowing from my eyes and nose. Expressed anger is embarrassing.

Creamy Velour went on to become pretty popular in a local-scene kind of way. They recorded at CD that is still up at iTunes (listen here). Jon was somewhat of a celebrity, and still is. He plays for his church. And lots of people schedule their church visits around when Jon sings or not.

Painted reality 

Playing in Creamy Velour painted my view of creativity and professionalism. We put a lot of effort into making it, and being a part of quality work makes being a part of other collaborations an issue. When I work in groups, I expect everyone to bring as much professionalism and perfection as Creamy Velour. More often than not, it renders my experiences empty and unsatisfying.

It also painted my view of secularism. Secularism was demonized in high school, and yet I discovered that the way to artistic professionalism was to avoid divisive things like religion and aim at universal truths like love, pain, and simply entertainment for the sake of entertainment. Nobody wanted the guilt involved with church while out on a Friday night. They wanted to listen to fun music, with fun bands.

What it takes to make it is often taking what works and assimilating your personality into it. This mentality goes against what I was taught, which was, “Do God’s work no matter the cost to your personal gain. Failure on earth might mean success in heaven.”

If that is your view of the world, let me be the one who tells you, “Success in heaven and failure on earth is what it is … it’s a failure. A failure is failure no matter how you paint it. No matter how you spin it.”

I recommend aiming for success now.

RADIOHEAD, KING of LIMBS, YOU SUCK!


I was really excited about this album this morning, and now I’m pissed off. I downloaded the album which is set to download automatically to my main drive. My main drive does not store my iTunes music folder.

But there’s a piracy mechanism in the files that won’t allow me to move the fucking music to my iTunes folder.

I’m really pissed off, Radiohead.

FIX IT!!!

Suicide letters


Bill Zeller, a computer programmer, committed suicide recently. The news has been blazing around the Internet. He’s the guy who wrote a hack for iTunes called MyTunes that allowed you to pull music off another person’s iPod. Apparently he wrote a lot of other programs, too.

Zeller was abused as a kid, and the depression took its toll on him. He left behind a suicide letter that he requests is published in full. It’s long, but I want to publish it here. I hope you take the time to read it. I’m going to put it below the fold, but it’s definitely worth your time.

I don’t believe suicide is the right answer for anyone, but I have no idea the extent of the pain that went through Zeller’s mind before he died. I think this is only a small window into that

There’s a part about his parents religiosity that is very thoughtful. The whole thing is worth your time.  This is the link I’m publishing from.

Continue reading

Speaking of memory-inducing music


Last night, Tina, Talulah and I drove to the south side to visit our friends Mike and Angie. On the way back, yours truly decided it would be better if Tina drove. Mike and I had a couple cocktails after dinner. You know, it’s always better to let she who had less to drink to drive.

As co-pilot, it was my job to DJ. It’s about a 45 minute drive, and it’s fun to have music to groove to when you’re approaching the city from the south and the skyline comes into view.

On the way down, Tina was DJ, and she played music she found on iTunes for $0.69 (sixty nine!) earlier that day. She found songs like Blur’s “Song 2″ and the Breeders “CannonBall.” It got us talking about other music that we remembered fondly from our youth.

I remembered a couple songs. One great memory was from the U2 single CD with b sides of “The Fly.” <– That link is for a wikipedia article written about the sing and b-sides. The CD included three songs: “The Fly” that would be released on Achtung Baby, as well as two other tracks. There was  “The Lounge Fly Mix” that included different and arguably better lyrics than the released version as well as a song called, “Alex Descends in the Hell for a Bottle of Milk.”

I wasn’t able to find a copy of “The Lounge Fly Mix” while driving last night. But I found “Alex Descends into Hell for a Bottle of Milk.”

I loved “Alex Descends into Hell” so much. I used to steal the CD from my brother Jon’s room and play it over and over. It was great.

I also loved Achtung Baby as an entire album. I never loved U2 until they released that disk and I haven’t loved them that much since (sorry Jon). The reason I loved it can be summed up in this description of the album from the wiki link above:

Lead vocalist Bono described the single as “the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree,”[1] due to its departure from the traditional sound that had characterised the band in the 1980s.

I didn’t know, but “The Fly” was written from the standpoint of someone who had been to hell and called someone to tell them how great it was. It makes “Alex Descends into Hell” that much better.

I also didn’t know that “Alex Descends into Hell” was a reference for “A Clockwork Orange” arguably one of the finest pieces of cinema and a damn good book by Anthony Burgess. Anyone who knows me well knows I could watch that movie over and over. It’s amazing cinema and story. It’s better dystopia, crime, punishment and redemption than anything I can think of at the moment.

Anyway, check out this video I found for “Alex Descends into Hell for a Bottle of Milk,” and mark down on your todo list to watch “A Clockwork Orange” at your earliest convenience.

And also enjoy a live version of “The Fly” and don’t forget to read all the bullshit blinking and flickering on the screen, especially the mind-altering line (that I remember well) “EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG”.