There is something that happens when we come into (or come back to) this world. We develop a sort of necessary callous on our sensing selves. We become callous. The little jabs and passive-aggressive, would-be humorous insults help to desensitize us from the pain of of our poisonous and jagged interactions with each other and our environment. We obsessively cleanse each other with language, we make each other warm with our words so that we aren't raw, so that we won't be subject to the disease-causing dangers of our inevitable poisons, our spoiled nature. We do this with all the fastidiousness that one of us might use when preparing an animal for sacrifice or consumption (if there is even a difference between those two processes). So I'm here, and I understand why we do these things. I don't necessarily enjoy the muted flavors and artificial preservatives... and I'm okay with being on the menu and choosing from it. All that said, I would like my love, companionship and participation to be served rare -- and a little dirty. I'll tend towards the wild. I want to stay at least a little bit unprepared.
The music keeps having adventures, and it keeps making me smile and cry to hear about them. Here's the latest, courtesy of an amazing girl, her cool dad and a tune that actually came from an amazing interaction I had with my own daughter, years ago now.
"My daughter is five years old and diagnosed with autism and speech delay / impairment. I only mention this so that you understand that it is a big deal when she has something to say.
Recently, she has been "sneaking" off with the ipad to watch slideshows that I made for my wife - pictures of her and her brother set to music that I choose. One of the songs is your "Belong."
A week or so ago, while she was brushing her teeth, I heard her humming the chorus to it. A few days later, I heard her singing it ("you belong to me... you don't know me...). So, I grabbed my guitar and started playing, and she sang along for just about the entire song and belted out the chorus. That was pretty amazing. But not the best part.
At a family party a few days ago, she grabbed her grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins and led them on a sing-a-long. She sang the verses and she even taught them the chorus so they could all it sing along with her. So - my entire family sat around and sang your song with her. There were a lot of tears.
The 'autism' side to my daughter is only one small aspect, but it does keep her from being able to use her voice as much as she would like, so when we can share something like this with her it is absolutely amazing. And now, she loves learning new songs and singing them while I play guitar. I can't really express how perfect those moments are.
So - anyway - thanks a lot. My friends and I saw Far and Willhaven open for Deftones when we were in college in Washington DC 1997 and we've been big fans ever since. And this has definitely been my favorite part of it.
By the way - her other favorite song is Vedder's live cover of "Forever Young." That's pretty good company to keep. (and awesome taste)"
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, I had an inexplicable spark of imagining what might be interesting and fulfilling and great about running a marathon. Marathons and other super-intense physical feats have always occurred to me kind of masochistic and strange, but I dunno, I just got this feeling, and I've always been someone that has trusted a feeling. So, G-d willing, I'll be running the Boston Marathon next year. Needless to say, I don't take this lightly in any way. Still scares me say it out loud (which is why I'm saying it out loud). There are so many ifs and maybes along the way, so many things I don't know.
Here's what I do know:
- I have no desire to attempt to qualify via speed (which would mean somehow running another marathon in around 3 hours, which is something like 7.5 minute miles for 26 miles, which just sounds like something I don't want to even contemplate trying), so...
- I'm now researching various charities that I can partner with to raise money. Even if I did want to learn to run that far that fast, it feels perfect to help other folks through all this.
- I bought my first pair of semi-fancy running shoes and I'm enjoying them. They really make a difference! Go figure.
- I'm beginning a long, gradual, relaxed training process. I want this to be helpful, not hurtful, for my body and brain. My idea is to run at a very relaxed pace, just really take it easy and have fun with it. I'm already really enjoying the slow, solitary running in the morning.
- As you can see up top and in the pic below, I have a cute name for the idea, which has always helped me get and stay excited about things. I've been using the name 'onelinedrawing' for my music for a lot of years now, and when I thought of 'runlinedrawing', it sort of sealed the deal for me to do this. I may well tie any fundraising efforts in with music (comp of covers of tunes somehow related to running, singing a little bit for people every few miles during the race, silly stuff like that), so we'll see what feels fun.
So, there you go. We shall see. It feels scary and exciting and sweet.
Here's me imaging it happening:
Recording naked in Santa Barbara, 1992, in my friend Mark's makeshift recording studio. Our buddy Scarth was there that day too, I believe. Note the old-school Far tribal logo sticker on the guitar. Now there's a band tattoo I'm sure happy I never got. I wish you could see my hilarious mane of a ponytail; looked like I was carrying a guinea pig on my back. Oh, the nekkidness? I have no explanation but our wonderful weirdness -- and I highly recommend recording in the nude with close friends.
Working away on so many ideas and communications. Individually and collectively, they enliven and overwhelm me in dizzying, overlapping waves. Taking a few minutes out of my day to see and feel this astonishing display was just so perfect. Patience, balance, care. Enjoy.
Since Chi's death, a few magazines and stuff have asked me some questions about him. I'm grateful for the chance to think on these things and maybe give others a glimpse into what I (and lots of others) loved so much about him. One simple question in particular really stuck with me: "If you could say anything to Chi right now, what would it be?" So when the sweet folks at the Sacramento News & Review asked me to write a slightly longer piece, I explanded on that idea. Here you go. Let's live.
So, I was reading this big, heavy Jewish book (that sort of start always got your attention). I found this part where some minor prophet or another is ranting about how nothing is an opportunity or a challenge or a journey or a learning experience or a test or a trial—it’s all gifts. All of it. Of all the conversations I wish we’d had, just talking about that one page—that one beautiful, brazen rant—that’s the conversation I wish for most right now. I think you would have agreed. You loved a tough take on beauty. You were all about the glorious rant.
I think of what Robert Frost wrote: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” I think of you wrestling with ideas, wrestling with people you cared for until you were tangled in their limbs and hearts. You stuck with people.
I have no stories about where you are or aren’t. I have no idea what you saw when I was there. I just know what I saw. It was just the same as before that stupid fucking car crash. Your family and friends circulating—I could never really tell who was blood and who wasn’t, and I didn’t care. I just saw the same gorgeous gathering around you, Chi, Dai, all the names. We’d all be whispering to you, telling stories, thinking maybe with just the right touch or melody or exciting new treatment we’d find you again, lead you back, refusing to let go. Your mom, sweet sentinel, reminding me where your capability for tenacious, tireless love came from.
I’m not sure we really know what to do now. You gave such a focus to things. How were you so precise and so chaotic all at once? I thought about that so often when watching you play. Through all the furious twirling and screaming, snaggletooth and sweat, dirty dreadlocks stuck to your face, pasted on until they got shaken off. In the center of all that mess, these delicate, thoughtful lines, holding together everything around you. The guttural, gorgeous screams; primal, simple words with so much room for interpretation and space. Yours was the voice to make those words mean as much as they ever would. Whether they were intelligible or not, they got in. Incantations. There’s this other really dense book, The Spell Of The Sensuous, that I know you’d love tearing into and tearing apart. It says something about how in some old language, the word for song is also the word for magic.
So, when I offer my ideas about everything being gifts and trying to have this—your death—occur as a present somehow, I think a lot of people would hate that idea. I don’t think you’d be one of them, though. I think you’d dig into it the way you loved digging into any number of difficult ideas, finding the fertile bits in the toughest terrain.
I hate that you’re gone. I hate that your son won’t get more time with you. I hated seeing how tired and embattled the faces of all the people that loved you were getting. The truth of your absence is something that will never leave and never stop hurting. But if you could just see everyone! I feel the tears coming again—if you could just see everyone talking, singing, hugging, all looking at each other, finally, like we always should be looking at each other, but it’s not until someone like you is missing that we figure out what it is to be found.
Fuck, maybe that’s just me trying to make sense of it, making up stories after all. I don’t need it to be true. I can just keep remembering how true you were. As permanent in your presence as you are in your absence. I can’t honestly say that I think that about most of us. I aspire to your effortless acceptance, without even a hint of acquiescence. You were all about the paradox.
This isn’t going to end cleanly. You used your heart as well as I’ve ever seen a heart used. Suddenly, it stopped. Sweet, smart, ferocious Chi. Goodbye.
(Onstage w/Deftones in 1997 at Irving Plaza in NYC. I ran across Manhattan and literally straight onto the stage (happens at around 2:46), just in time. I always used Chi's mic when I'd sing with them; I loved being close to him. I love seeing us smile and shake it in this blurry footage; all the energy and love.)
I have never been around the kind of faithful tenacity that I witnessed in Jeanne when I would visit Chi and sing for/with him. Of course I'm on tour, waking up and finding out he's finally, really gone. Fits, somehow. Along with the beyond-measure grief thinking of his family and loved ones, I'm feeling really deep gratitude for the people I met through this tragedy, for the song that was created from it, made with lifelong friends on a sweet and peaceful afternoon, after a dream. I still remember the feeling of recording this at Shaun's house. Never forget.
I dreamt that you were alive, really alive
I dreamt of your eyes, I dreamt of your eyes
They weren't just open, they were engaged
We were inside, sitting inside
We're with our families, we're with our friends
At night we live
I'm realizing that while I had pretty well accepted that I'd never speak with Chi again, I did have this little glimmer that some impossibly long-shot miracle might happen, and it's time to mourn that. I'm also reminded (again and again) that whatever comes and goes, we actually do, so I want to keep remembering that and let the little things go with love. And yea, just about everything is pretty little in relation to this most (seemingly) permanent of transformations.
Okay. Have a beautiful day. Here's from the night before the last time I ever saw him.
And, through the strange magic of YouTube and our collected collective memories, here's from the year before, in the same gorgeous room. Hadn't remembered the interspersing that happened and all the goofiness. Sweet to hear again. Chi woulda dug it, I know it. We'll keep trying for us, up here with angels, free as birds, reigning in blood, indeed.
Some Gut Thoughts On All This KickGoGoPledgeStarter Stuff:
It's strange, though not entirely unexpected, for me to hear some folks hating on the crowdfunding thing. Over the last 20 years, I've lived through the same phenomenon with genres, ideologies, social networks, scenes, so much. The interwebs moves fast and crazy, eating itself irrelevant like… I don't know, I can't think of a good metaphor. You get it.
As simply put as possible, anything can be shitty and anything can be transcendent (hello, television). All I know is I've always wanted this (art, life, whatever) to be as personal as can be. When I look back, that's been my compass through the choices. I've had some of my most intimate, cool musical moments of connection when tons of money was flying around, and for sure when none was too. So many ways come and go. So, I can't speak for any of the other artists/businessfolks trying this way out, but here's for me:
I've been finding sensible, neat ways to get my ideas into the world for a long time, no matter who's around or not. I love that process almost as much as I love the songs themselves (it's all ideas, really). To be sure, I'm very, very not rich; I live in a little apartment in an unhip neighborhood, I've never owned a new car or anything close, I've never had a laundry machine anywhere I've lived, I don't eat out much, on and on. That said, one way or another I've made a living doing this for 20 years, which is totally fuckin nuts. Aside from the labels and various entities that have helped out along the way, the money you've chipped in at shows, stores and websites has fed me and helped me send my daughter to college, and I'm doing okay. I live sustainably and reasonably. I've heard funny rumours that I have a trust fund or something, otherwise how the fuck could I do it as weird as I have and still survive. I've also heard that I dye my hair to stay looking young, so there you go. Eeew to both (though I'm jealous of people that have inherited tons of loot, so share some with me, please). Anyway, please don't chip in out of any sort of sympathy or something. There are people in this world that need money so exponentially more than me that I can barely bear to write that sentence. Be a part of it cos you want to be a part of it; in it with me. Together.
So yea, back to fun. I think crowdsourcing is fun. I don't take fun lightly. I think it's why we're here (that's a whole 'nother essay). I've always thought that. Before these cool sites existed, I was basically doing the same thing, except without the fancy interfaces. I love the correspondence, I love the mailing of packages, I love the wrestling with technology, I love the working it out. I just think it's great for people to actually be a part of stuff getting made as it happens, to buy into the idea of it, to be along for the ride. People that want to spend a little can do that, people that want to spend a lot can do that. Being the geeky fan that I am, I also think it's cool to give early-to-the-party, enthusiastic, generous people extra-good deals and special, personal stuff that won't be sold in the more traditional ways. By the same token, I also think it's cool to give people a chance to pay a little extra if they can afford it and/or they think I deserve it. I've done that, too, and it feels really good. It does seem like some idiotic artists and scammers are abusing the medium, jumping into projects without working for it, making promises they can't keep, not handling the trust of the people wanting to support them with grace and accountability. That sucks, of course. If it needs to be said, that's just not me. I show up, over and over. If I fuck up, I say it and fix it as best I can. pretty simple. Truth be told, the confusions have always been some of my favorite parts. That's when we really get to know each other and the masks come off, if we're brave enough.
So please, be a part of this project. Blow my mind (Ian's too), make it make millions. Or not. I think it's gonna be fuckin awesome (why else would I do it, right?). Be a part of it if you think it might be awesome too, and you want to see it exist in the best way it can. Thanks for being a part of the ideas that came before. I hope you'll stick around for whatever comes next. All the methods of communication and exchange will keep changing. Through it all, breathe through the hype and hate. Look out for the stuff that just gives you a good feeling in your gut and vote for that. I'll be right there with you.
Jonah, San Francisco, Jan 14 2013
Dear Grand Old (Tea) Party and conservatives of all stripes; Akin, Palin, Rush, Bachmann, Chik Fil-A dude and other weirdo CEOs, Ryan, Boehner, Hannity, Coulter, McConnell, Rove, all of you... please keep speaking up.
Keep speaking up about race and immigration. This country — this world — is getting less white and more wonderfully multi-hued every day. The more you keep calling human beings 'illegals', the more you use would-be code words to demean all shades of brown people, the more you debase and disrespect unfamiliar religions and traditions... the easier it will be for people of all colors to see your bigotry and ignorance and vote accordingly.
Keep speaking up about women. The more you attempt to minimize rape, the more you try to legislate what a woman can do with her body, the more you try to outlaw abortion rather than taking a holistic approach to reproductive health and sexuality, the more your fear and hatred of the feminine becomes clear... the easier it makes it for all of us to witness your gross misogyny and vote accordingly.
Keep speaking up about gender and sexuality. The wide, wonderful spectrum of the LGBTQ community is getting more out, proud and awesome every day. The more you try to demonize and shame people for being in loving relationships, the more you try to tell people that they can't get married, the more you hang on to outdated gender roles and rules... the more you isolate yourselves, while the rest of us have fun watching our communities bloom and blend—and yes, we will all vote accordingly.
Keep speaking up and insulting people in need. Keep saying that social programs and universal health care are useless, wasteful, government dinosaurs made for lazy losers. Keep belittling the millions of us working so hard to support ourselves and our families. Keep making fun of the idea of climate change. Keep trying to kill public education. Keep talking about how free the market is. Keep talking about how great deregulation is. Keep trying to sneak weird stuff into our food. Keep trying to suppress the vote. Keep trying to scare us into thinking we can bomb our way to peace. Keep pretending that abstinence and prohibition work. Keep trying to keep secrets and tell crazy stories, as we keep exposing them more and more quickly and methodically. It all helps us to see each other as allies, even though you've tried so hard to have us see each other as adversaries. It helps us to wake up and wonder what we've been so afraid of. It helps us to band together and find common ground. Speaking of which, thanks for all the help this election cycle. You never stopped reminding us that President Obama and the rest of the Democratic candidates, while less than ideal, were such a clearly better choice. By the way, if you bother to look back at some of the awful things you've said and done that have led to this place, you might catch a glimpse of yourselves careening towards the worst side of history. If you want to take a step back from that cliff, you're always invited to a place of rational thought and debate, where science is respected, where religion and spirituality aspire to foster love and trust rather than hate and fear, where we prefer community and togetherness to selfish, cold individuality. Until then, just keep right on speaking up. As for the rest of us...
Dear Democrats and Progressives of all stripes: we need to keep working to find consensus on the environment, civil rights, education, taxation, the military, privacy, food, drugs... everything, really. We need to push for our shared dreams and ideals while being rational and responsible about the world we’ve created. We need to watch for our own extremist tendencies. We need to start at the local level and work outward, patiently. We need to hold our elected officials accountable as we honor them and appreciate their hard work on our behalf; and if we really don’t like them, we need to be elected officials we do like. Let’s move forward. Together.
(a middle-class guy raising his daughter in the big, weird, wonderful US of A)