Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Days of Our Lives

These are the days we have, the ones we number, the ones we’ll always remember, the ones we want to forget, the ones we’ll never forget. There are some we don’t talk about – ever. Some are painful, some are hilarious, some hurt, some make us cry- every time we think of them. They come as a shock, as a stunning relief, as a whisper, as a long soft memory, as a growing realization, some of them have names…

These are some of my Days, not necessarily in chronological order, so far.
What are yours?

The Day You Wake Up
I was just a Malibu kid (whenever possible) diving into the waves and kelp and wrangling stinkbugs in the Hollywood Hills. Then at age six or seven - I woke up. I don’t remember the exact day but I remember looking into the mirror and knowing who I was, knowing that I was different from any other person in the world. It was amazing… and in the next split second I knew I would die one day and sadness, not fear, ran all the way through me…welcome to the human race, I thought.

The Day You Notice Girls
You’ve been a wild thing in a pre-Pandoran paradise. Well, that’s over. Welcome to Hormone World. From now on – for the next ten years or so you will officially be a walking sack of shit and hormones (use that metaphor any way you want to, everything applies). The only good thing is that you are not really responsible for anything that happens during this time.
Note: This release is only for internal bookkeeping, the outside world will pound you over the head for every action you take – whether it was well-intentioned or not.
In other words: you’re screwed.

The Day You Are King of the Jungle
OK, guys, admit it: sometime around age 13, 14, 15 you went to your ‘secret’ place by the river, in the forest, down by the railroad tracks – the place where you could be really, really alone… and you stood there and pounded your chest and practiced your Tarzan roar… it’s OK, we all did it. Usually we hacked and coughed a lot afterwards. For a short time, after we discovered we have muscles, this is irresistible. Don’t be ashamed, it’s kinda a rite of passage… [snicker]… No! I didn’t mean that…

The Day the Music Mattered
I grew up in the ‘60s, yeah I was at Woodstock (eat yer hearts out yuppie poseurs!), when music mattered. This of course has not happened to any other generation… the Beatles were OK but not really cool until they dropped acid and went crazy, the Stones were never satisfied, Cream were gods, Dylan was our poet laureate, Jefferson Airplane wrote the manifesto, The Who were right (they still are), the Dead were always making trouble somewhere, Janis made you want to go all apeman and tear everybody’s clothes off and then there was Jimi… words need not apply.
But, there were rumors in the fall of 1968 that a new supergroup of english blues-rock musicians was forming. Jimmy Page had left the Yardbirds as that legendary group was breaking up. We'd heard that he and Jeff Beck (co-lead guitar with the Yardbirds) might be forming the group, Keith Moon and John Entwistle from The Who were said to be interested. Other rumors said that Page was the only member with a rockstar reputation since Beck and Chris Dreja had dropped out.
No one knew who the other members of the group were, there was just a name: Led Zeppelin (Lead Balloon in American).
An American tour was scheduled for January 1969 - but no one had heard any of their music - anticipation was running high.

One day on a cold November morning in New York I was walking down Washington Place from the Sheridan Square station towards Avenue of the Americas. On the left side of the street there was a great record shop down 4-5 steps into a half basement. They played music through loudspeakers stuffed into the windows and pointed towards the street. They were known to have the very latest imports and the very earliest cuts from across the Atlantic, sometimes including pre-release reviewer copies of extremely hard to get records.
Sometimes they would even sell them to you.

I remember walking towards 6th Avenue and suddenly being frozen in my tracks as the sound came on: the thundering drums, the intimidating, gut-wrenching, shuddering bass, the shrieking, snapping, howling lead guitar… and all of it recorded and played way too loud.
I'd never heard anything like it - no one had.
I hated the annoying singer but it didn't matter, that sound was fearless, uncompromising, an irresistible force in a universe that had never existed before.
It was Led Zeppelin, it was a revolution.

The Day You Fall in Love (for the first time)
The first time I saw her, she was crying. Some handsome, thoughtless cad had broken her heart and she was crying it out. I held her for as long as it took for the sobs to choke to a halt, she looked up and I was lost. The rest is what happens when you are, ‘a friend’. I was all of eighteen and knew less than nothing - but that moment was real. [cue “North Dakota” by Lyle Lovett]

The Day It No Longer Does
Somewhere down the line, the musicianship flagged, the music got bad, then boring and I went back to music of my youth: Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev. Sometime later I awoke to find that music had moved on or I had gotten older, I’m not sure which. In any event, music wasn’t important anymore, that is, it wasn’t integral to my life any longer. It didn’t matter to me if so-and-so had the cred to say thus-and such… really I didn’t even know who half the groups were anymore… or care. The generations move on and on, an ineluctable wave on the time current… and so it goes….

The Day You Realize that You Are Really Smart
A day comes when you are in the middle of a conversation or a game or a meeting at work… and you suddenly realize that the other party or parties in the meeting/conversation/competition have no clue to what you are doing or talking about. This is not arrogance or ego, it is a flash of understanding that there are a host of people out there who will never, ever, get what you are saying or doing. It’s a lonely moment because the world now contains far fewer people you can really talk to, for the rest you will have to find a way to get them the information in a form they can deal with. This sounds cruel and people will usually resent it when they are apprised of it, but it’s real on many levels – I talk to specialists in many fields but especially in mathematics and I feel like a low grade moron when I see them struggling to reduce their brilliance to a level that an idiot like me can understand.

The Day You Stop Leaving Jagged Holes in the Concrete When You Walk
Neal Stephenson said this very well in his novel “Snow Crash” (I’m paraphrasing here) Until a certain point, a man can say to himself: If I dropped everything and went to a Shao-Lin temple in China and studied hard for ten years, I could still be the biggest badass on the planet (trust me ladies, ALL guys have this fantasy – it’s harmless, just ignore it and it will go away). Then something happens that just snaps you into focus and: it’s over. You get on with your life and don’t worry about this particular male pinnacle anymore – the position is taken.

The Day You Become Invisible to Teenage Girls
You’re walking down the street, mid to late twenties. Maybe you’re still ‘buff’ but maybe your hair is starting to thin, in any event, something is giving you away… some teen hotties are coming towards you… and you suddenly realize that you better jump out of their way or you’ll get trampled. Welcome to reality: you are now officially “Old, ewww!”
If you’re like me, you immediately start to think of Catherine Deneuve (the French think a woman isn’t really interesting until she’s in her mid-30s) or at the very least you can tell yourself that fairytale.
The only saving grace here is that you may think, for just a second, “I wouldn’t be seventeen again for all the tea in China.” Good luck.

The Day Your Heart Breaks
The real one, you know it when it happens. ‘Nuff said.

The Day You Grow Up
Can be many things for many people. My feeling is: it’s the day you stop blaming your parents for your problems. If you’re lucky, it happens early, for some poor bastards it never does.

The Halfway Day
Credit to my friend Thun Han for this one. Remember how old your grandparents were when they died (and your parents if they have gone as well). Take the average, divide by two. If you’re older than that number, you’re probably on the downward side of life… better get busy.

The Day You Think You Understand Women
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!... snort!... [wipes nose]…Ha! Ha!... mumble, mumble… [has another drink]…

The Day You Acknowledge that There Might Be, maybe… somewhere… someone who might possibly be… just barely… smarter than you…
Yeah, well I haven’t met the guy yet and besides, I don’t want to talk about it.

The Day You Realize that the World Really Is Divided into…
For me it’s a matrix: one set of dividers is what I call the “Gazelle People” [gorgeous, thin, tanned, obviously having no cares in the world because they will always get whatever they may desire just because they are beautiful] vs the rest of us Ugli’s: balding, gravity challenged, aging…Feh!
The other divide is between the Smart Folks and the Stupid People. This is a big divide, I don’t care what the Bell curve says, there are very, very few Smart Folks and we don’t breed a lot. Stupid People, on the other hand, apparently have little else they know how to do well. I have nothing against them but the numbers mean that, in a democracy, they get to run things – with results for all to see. This isn’t working for me, I want a change. Now if I were a ‘Gazelle-Smart’ I wouldn’t give a damn…

The Day Your Best Friend Dies
My best friend, Geoff Latta, died late last year. I’m still getting over it… actually I’m still in the process of understanding what his death means for me. He was a complex man, as many are. He loved Liszt and Judas Priest, he loved Harleys and he was a gifted artist. He was an expert in color publishing, he was one of the greatest sleight-of-hand, close up magicians who ever lived. He loved/hated women and they loved/hated him right back. One of the most talented/tormented men I ever met. He was an alcoholic and it killed him. He was my friend and I miss him, but that’s not all… I realize that the person I was in this friendship is also gone, in fact there is a door in the universe that is now closed, things I think that we talked about which are opaque to anyone else. “No man is an island…”, indeed…

The Day You Realize that Times Marches On
…and you’re along for the ride whether you like it or not. Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, and all that. Seriously, this is the day you realize you don’t have a minute to waste - really.

The Day You Realize that You Will Probably Not Be Leaving Your Footprints on the Sands of Time
Let’s see: Rockstar? Nope. Great American Novel? Nope. Magnificent Scientific Discovery? Nope. Nobel Peace Prize? Nope. *Sigh*…

The Day You Are Free
This used to mean, for me, how much “fuck you” money I had. It was how much money do I need to be “free”? It started out at about $2 million, then $5M, now it’s probably up to about $10M. But along the way I discovered that the “fuck you” part wasn’t as important anymore. The “free” part is a lot more important now. I don’t have the answer to the equation yet… but I’m working on it…

There are more Days to come for me and, I trust, for you. Some will, I hope, be delightful. Many, I know, will now have shadows. As time goes on I will savor my Days for I think we carry them too lightly, too much of the time.
Tread carefully, stride bravely, consider wisely.

No comments: