Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Journal Entry: September 1992

These are writings from my 1992 journal, five months after meeting Paul, and while writing the songs that became Garage Orchestra

Am I in love?
I'm afraid to admit I may be.
And he is so often on my mind.
Got a letter from him today, I like that.
hmm, wish he were here.
then again, when he is, there's little time
for music work. So much of our attention
being devoted to one another.
He is adorable, lovable, high strung,
a lot of nervous energy.
Mind on high speed. He self consciously
speaks in slower meter, keeping his voice low
and tries to make it pleasant. Which can come off,
well....self conscious. Then other times it sounds a little higher
and a little quicker and more nervous and sorta kid-like (almost) and it's
less controlled.
I like it better less controlled.
Sometimes, a controlled voice sounds a bit like a new age author reading
chapters from a positive thinking book at a meditation/prosperity consciousness raising seminar.
I don't trust those types.
A lot of white people try too hard.

(Ocean Beach, CA 1992)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ushers Into The Theater Of Life

Sebastian Green, CLB, Renata Bratt at NVA Theater, Carlsbad CA
(think we were singing a Carter Family tune here, "You're Gonna Be Sorry")

There are a lot of great things about being a guitar instructor. One of them is getting to work with young students that are just finding out who they are as human beings and some of them find out how much they love music, and some discover they have a gift for it. As a teacher, I think, we are just usher's into the theater of life, showing young souls their seat and then the rest is up to them.

Here's a really nice article on one of my guitar students, a 14 year old that's quite the natural on all things musical, but particularly bluegrass guitar. It's been fun and an honor working with Sebastian...

photo credit: Peter Meade

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Straight Outta Marysville

This is me and Paul 2 1/2 months after his bicycle accident/brain injury (April 15, 1995)...at the American Bookseller Assoc. convention. The doctors and nurses and therapists who were working with Paul had asked him not to go the the convention, it was in Chicago, they wanted more time for his brain to heal. But there was no talking him out of it so I went along and made sure he stayed safe.

You're wondering what I mean by 'safe'? It was just a month earlier he had come home from the hospital and on that day he went raging, out of the apartment and down the street because his mother had told him the chicken wasn't finished cooking yet. One minute he seemed perfectly normal, the next he was yelling at me he wanted a divorce...fine, except we weren't married. Or, he was waking up early in the morning, getting out of bed and peeing in a cardboard box in his office. Or, he was crying profusely over a passage in the children's film, James and the Giant Peach. It was a challenging adventure to be sure.

Before his accident happened I was just beginning to write songs for the follow up album to Garage Orchestra. I'd only had a few songs written so far...Talking With A Mineral, Diane of the Moon, I'm a Tumbleweed. Me and the core members of the Garage Orchestra: Randy Hoffman, Renata Bratt and Chris Davies, we're just beginning to workshop some of the tunes. But mostly we'd been touring throughout 1994 and 95 for the Garage Orchestra album.

We'd done a bunch of shows with the Smithereens, one of the shows had a new band opening before us, Weezer. The guys in Weezer were super cool and we all hung out behind the theater together after the show, discussing how much we liked each others music. We'd gone out as a 3 piece, me on guitar, Chris on bass and Randy playing timpani/vibraphone/percussion...

Anyways, when April 15, 1995 happened....I was in a bit of a funk. So many friends and fans were so enthusiastic about Garage Orchestra (released 4/94) and I'd gotten some great reviews, but nothing was moving my life closer to easy. It was tax day. I was driving home from a rehearsal with Randy and Chris and had a feeling of being hungry, and I thought to myself I'm not gonna stop to eat because I want to grab something with Paul, so I waited and I hightailed it home. I came in the apartment and no one was home, so I fell down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Next minute our neighbor was banging on the door and shouting for me to follow her...the accident had happened a block from our place, on a big hill going down to the beach on 3rd street. But I've written of this before...

Long story short: Once Paul was out of the hospital, out of inpatient rehab, out of outpatient rehab ...our lives were supposed to be normal again. Wrong. Bringing your loved one home after a brain injury is kinda like bringing a feral animal home, one that loves you, but is none the less, feral.

That first month he was home I wrote the song Unknown Master Painter. I must admit, I had the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to get in the car and drive it as far east as I could go. I wanted to escape, at the same time I knew I wouldn't. A few family members, Paul's family, were calling and inviting me to leave him. One said, "You're too young to have to live a life like this. You should leave now and let yourself have a life. He may never be the same again"

I didn't listen. In fact, I didn't understand what she was talking about at all. How does one leave someone that they love? Especially in their darkest hour. Plus, I was still too in love with Paul. You see we'd only just moved in together the year before. It was still in the intoxicating phase. But now, maybe with a big shot of Haldol mixed in. And then, there was that ever-present desire one has to want to fix it and make it all better, however impossible and delirious that fixing may be.

It was hard. My musicians were supportive and understanding and we fit in rehearsals when we could. The accident certainly set us back and I was left without any feeling of where the creative process was going, and then quite suddenly the cellist Renata had to move away to the east coast. So it became an issue of timing.

Somewhere in there I had a conversation with Paul about what the album should be and he brought up the idea of a Fire Sale, that is getting rid of all the songs I'd had in my arsenal, and hadn't released. And so that became the spirit of the album.

We recorded it in the fall of 1995, about 6 months after Paul's accident. Thinking back I don't know how I pulled it off at that time. It seems astounding now, considering what I was going through with Paul's recovery. And his insistence in getting back, quickly into his regular life pace. So we went to Europe so he could do a lecture tour, and he took a job as a music editor of a HiFi magazine, and I made an album and I watched over Paul's progress and his care.

This is the fire that brought forth Straight Outta Marysville. And it is back in print now, as of today in a digital only format..at iTunes and the like. I heard some of it today for the first time in over 12 years and it is an odd album, full of peculiar characters and plenty of youthful anxiety and some beautiful if minimalist orchestrations...Lenny Kaye once said to me that recordings are photographs, Marysville is then a photo album of my 1995 with a few amazing musical friends.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When she left Picasso,

the days were still warm, all the world was young
it was summer
or what was left of it.

When she left Picasso
there was nothing to be done to make the going easy
she was met at the end of the lane
by a man with a lamp
who showed her the way out
and which road to go
away from Picasso.

When she left Picasso
she couldn't eat or sleep
there was too little time
there was too far to go
and the future a steep/grade up/into the unknown.

When she left Picasso
it was a summer night
with the windows of the town fully open with light
and the terrible red eye of Antares staring down
from the bright net of stars called Scorpio.

and, what was there to be done with
the things he'd given her
the stories, the visions,
the children of nuclear fission
it was a hell of a way to go...

...when she left Picasso,
he wondered why
wanted to know the ways a bird can fly
so many had flown too close to the sun
but she has left me while our love was still young
and that rattled the soul of old Picasso.

When she left Picasso
the waves smashed on the shore
in the south of France
the rip tide was great
and pulled at full force
full of yearning for Picasso.

When she left,
and they kissed their last kiss
white hot as the first
he slammed his fist on the desk
spilling the green tea,
'women don't leave a man like me,
don't you know who I am, I'm Picasso'.

When she left Picasso
god he was mad
all the colors drained out of the room
and left were the etchings of structures of things
like bones and stones and tombs,
and the sucking black hole
at the end of the o, in Picasso.

When she left Picasso
she wasn't afraid
she had the right of the spheres on her side,
and the winds blew behind her and tousled her hair
and the gods in her did confide,
'we'd hoped you'd stay for a while,
but if you must then go,
you've earned your wings
with this Picasso'.

When she left
started her car
set the GPS for somewhere,
all the way down that long-haul road
were scattered bones of those that had gone before
lovers friends and foe of Picasso.

When she left Picasso
the Santa Anas were blowing
from California to Barcelona
the tin roofs of bordellos were coming down,
a chime from a church bell
the doppler'd harmonica
the sound of his voice,
his voice that echoed through her lost mining towns,
on the winds of desire that blew through the portals
of the P and O, of Picasso.

When she left Picasso
goodbye was still a hello
a fond waiting 'til next text or talk on the phone
every door left open
and buttons undone
like a nuclear wasteland
with all things in place
but the humans were totally gone.
Like this she said yes, to life and to love
and sent a wish out into the unknown
a kiss to all things
both fierce and beautiful
like this, she said no, to Picasso.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

the sweetest thing is....

the heart goes on loving...
the sad thing is the heart goes on loving...
the exasperating thing is....

the beautiful thing is the heart goes on loving and the sun shining.
the ridiculous thing is the heart goes on loving and the sun and stars turn round in the sky, over and over again.

the encouraging thing is the heart, goes on,.... loving even while sub-atomic particles move on, changing partners, making whole new babies and snowflakes.

the dumbest-stupidest most wonderful thing is the heart... goes on loving despite the weather here and what you've had for dinner.
the trickiest part is the heart.