Cursive is Code: The Key to the Songs

OK, First business, then Monkey Business.

Join your Author as he unveils his new band Cursive is Code publicly for the first time at Cafe Nine for the Sunday Buzz series Sunday August 1st with super special guests Lys Guillorn and Her Electric Band getting back together for the occasion.

So one more time: Cafe Nine (250 State St, New Haven, CT 06510) Sunday August 1st. Show starts at 4;00 PM and is free. Cursive is Code live debut. It will rock and that is not hype.

Want to know what you are in for? follow this link to a Live and Raw version of our tune ‘The Deleted History Of Us’ here: https://soundcloud.com/jason-p-krug/the-deleted-history-of-us-live-and-raw-full-band

In my estimation, the Greatest Story Ever Told (with apologies to the Bible) involves a team of heroes…or better still villains….who come together with a single minded intention.

This can be World Domination or World Saving or planning a particularly surprising Surprise party…. When you get a group of disparate individuals pulling together like a team, great things can happen.

Usually after a series of bad things. Cause that is Creation. And Creation ain’t always pretty. I refer you to birth, at large.

People come together, disagree, come together, make a little more progress…disagree…..repeat. People get tested and either rise to the challenge or stop returning phone calls. The goal in mind grows larger with the sweat equity of work. And Luck plays a hand. Because as much as we want to believe that hard work can get you what you need, Luck can do it faster, better, harder.

And the only thing that improves this concept is if everyone is holding instruments.

A band is a living thing. If it is healthy. The people around you can hold you together. If it is unhealthy, the same, but it is like a trust fall. There will come a time that they will not be there and you will fall hard.

This is a fable based on fact. This is The 1200 Bar Blues.

The Grand Libido: Magic is a deal. Magic is the willful suspension of disbelief. And so is sex. It can send you outside of the atmosphere (if done properly) or ground you to the life line you need to survive.

It can also upset your apple cart, destroy your home, your sense of self respect, the concept of trust in general. Sometimes if done properly. The rightness of the moment is magic, the reality of the next day is stage work. A genuine suspension of real belief required.

In summary, Sex is Magic. And here’s a song about a magician.

Hopi Fest: This is a song about charity. Or to the point charity gigs. I must state for the record that I am not against charity or charity gigs. The reason I must state that to this imaginary record is because of this song. It’s a true story and some of you may have been there, early on the bill on  shitty Sunday at Sneakers. The gig that caused Hogan to hate reggae. The gig where we went on last to the deep disappointment of everyone who wanted to just go home. When we dropped acid about half way though.

It Could Be The Drugs (It Could Be The Dancing): Have you ever received a note in you band email offering a gig in the big city? They state they have found your song and LOVE it (capitalized). And they have an opportunity for you to play where the action is: (insert big city near where you claim here)? This is your chance! Of course the gig is on a Wednesday morning which is usually where the music scouts are out looking for new talent. Plus you will have the benefit of playing with other bands. Its not a competition. Its not. But make sure you bring everyone you know and everyone they know. Though its not a competition. Really.

Kinky Devil:  Regarding the next song, Kinky Devil: No Comment.

Summer of Drummers: This is not a new quest. This may be a life long quest. Maybe my ultimate quest. I have no luck with the makers of beat. Drummers are like the hot chicks in the bar: everybody wants them, needs them, but they play to many other dudes. BTW…if you know a drummer, give them my name

Houston, We Got A Problem: This song exists for one reason. Lucky Money Oil. If you were conscious in the 80s you may remember seeing these in a variety of 7 11s and Wawa’s in your travels. A small bottle of oil that if you use will bring you great fortune. The downside is that it smelled like Patchouli and Grim Death. This song is about spilling that oil in your car and rolling up the windows IN THE Summer Sin to see which of your friends could last the longest before ejecting.

Show Your Work: Half of this band are teachers in the public school system. And a lot of our friends are teachers too. I have learned a lot from them even now, mainly that I wish I paid attention to the teachers I had. But I have heard the term ‘Show Your Work’ a few times and it struck me. This … this whole day…. is me showing my work.

I’m The Singa’: It requires gumption (or balls) to say Im The Singer. To step out on the stage with nothing but your voice and words you don’t remember and sell it…. As noted: balls and gumption. This one goes out to CC of GG.

The Death Of Indie: I blame Society. And Spin Magazine. Big radio and Pitchfork. I blame myself and some of you. What is Indie Music? Isn’t everything Indie Music? Are we Indie? Are you? This is a crime scene investigation with a wicked beat.

Our Future Is California: The best description I have heard of this song is from my mate Julie who stated ‘The prettiest F.U song ever.’. This is Our Future is California

Who Plays First: this is a tale based on the apocalypse and proper band placement. This is my ego to a 4 x 4 beat

The Deleted History Of Us; This is my take on a modern age Grimm Generation song. CC and I were always fascinated by the interpersonal interactions via the Internet, and how this formed our culture on a global level, but as deeply, personal relations. This song is about the last gasp of Internet love.

The Greatest Story Never Told

The greatest story ever told? I said it so I must mean it. Right?

Right.

This is something I have said before. Probably in this very space. It is something I believe. And something I have done.

And it goes a little something like this (hit it!):

The Greatest Story Ever Told is based on a band that did not make it. A Band you never heard of, playing songs you never knew.

But what about the coke fueled parties? The difficult second album? Who slept with whose wife / husband / daughter?

What about the grandiose celebrity failure checklist that passes as music journalism?

You see, bad behavior is not exclusively for the rich and famous. We have all done pretty fucked up things.

So for the Coke Fueled Parties, you get a junkie drummer. And that is no party.

Re: the difficult 2nd album, how about trying to get a gig during a pandemic where everyone who was afraid to go outside at all developed genius marketing? (More eloquently, if you cannot go up the Mountain, watch the weather because there may be a time that the Mountain will come down to you).

The assorted affairs? Yes, you need to be rich to do that. Right? (crickets…)

No…these are trappings of success. Right down to the fact that they are reported and cataloged and presented to a generally uninterested World.

No. What I am talking about is Death or Glory.

Or steady work or Glory.

Playing shows for the bartenders only or Glory.

Packing your shit back in the van during a blizzard where no sane soul would even leave their house … or Glory.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!’ he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred…’

These are matters of faith. You trust your Muse; you weigh your chances and you make your move. And you seek out folks with a similar vibe, a similar desire who can hopefully play an instrument you cannot. When you bring a group together with a single-minded idea of what they want, amazing things can happen. Usually in line with samples sized bites of true disaster. But that’s show biz.

Bands come from everywhere. They can be your long-time friends, or family. They can be friends of friends that you have hung out with some but don’t know them that well. They can be an anonymous donor of rock that you found on whatever acts as Craigs List this century.

And you get tested. And they get tested right along with you. And how you all deal with these tests…is a test.

I have played with people I have not cared for. I know that people who don’t care for me have lined up behind my songwriting. It’s a Devils Deal…. but that doesn’t mean it cannot be successful. Some bands sound is based on the raw anxiety that each individual member has by having having to spend time with the other members. Fact: these are usually my favorite bands.

‘Their’s not to make reply, Their’s not to reason why, Their’s but to do and die: Into the valley of Death…’

If you have the drive, you push through and a proper line up gets assembled. Though unless they are friends or family, don’t get used to them. You’re not the only one in town selling this dream.

And songs come together. (Note: this whole magilla is related original bands playing a roughly Westernized Pop style. If you play jazz, I have no idea why you are even reading this).

You write songs with a message, and that message does not need to be deep. It does need to have a hook. Something that resonates either melodically or lyrically.

You bring these songs to the collective and everyone adds to the brew. The song that you wrote alone in your bedroom half drunk becomes a clarion call informing the sound of what you do. It is one of the most pleasing parts of the process having a musician kick up an idea that you would never have even considered and its genius. Something subtle, something wholly revelatory. This errant child of your drunk sadness starts to walk upright. And maybe shimmy a bit.

This is Glory. This is why potential is an absolute addiction. You broke your own heart writing this song with real tears and after it goes through the process, you sing it without a care. Cause everyone has a job to do.

So you build songs together, work up the dynamics, the drama with continuous practice, continuous play. A night or two gets picked and that is Jam Night. You all take to the Lab.

It is a secret thing right up until you start selling it.

‘Storm’d at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred…’

The more time you spend with these people form the bond that is necessary to take on the upcoming disappointments. The first being that the more time you spend with these people, you realize that there is oil in the water and always will be. Everybody has a job to do and your current job is keeping your mouth shut.

And how could disappointments not come? This disparate collection of self-involved souls have created a masterpiece out of the ether. The World will tremble. The bars will overflow with milk AND honey when they behold what we created.

Inside the Jam Room, you forget outside the Jam Room. That you can be good, you can be motivated, you can be willing to lay down your life for that Glory. But you are unlucky. And an unlucky zealot is just a dude with an opinion.

‘While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came thro’ the jaws of Death, Back from the mouth of Hell …’

And maybe time has passed you by. Maybe you are not in line with what ‘the kids’ are buying. Maybe your just tired.

Its possible, of course. With each victory thwarted by an uncaring World, the stress shows on all of the faces surrounding you.

You press on. A good review versus a bad gig. A drinking problem versus firing your guitarist. The slowly reclining press of a culture that is ceasing to exist at all.

This won’t stop you. It never does. You have something to say. Maybe in the next band.

‘When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wonder’d. Honour the charge they made! Honour the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!’

Sunday Night Radio: What Is This That Stands Before Me?

Hello Beautiful. I will start with the most obvious question: Is this post a cheap ploy to bring home the fact that Cursive is Code (my band) is being played on the Mighty WPLR 99.1 Sunday night at 10 PM on the Local Bands Show (https://www.wplr.com/2020/12/10/the-local-bands-show-12-13-20/)?

Maybe to bring up the fact that it will be stream able the following day on the replay through Cygnus Radio at Noon (https://cygnusradio.com/)?

Of course not, Silly. But do listen.

No.

This post is about growing up in the shadow of this particular 50,000 Watts station and why being featured on Sunday nights makes me feel like I have magic shoes that allow me dance on ceilings.

When I was growing from boy to older boy, before all of my comic books were traded for a single Alice Cooper ticket (it is a great Rock and Roll story and a poor plan), this station is why.

It was the King Biscuit Flour Hour and the show was ‘Black and Blue: Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult).

I was about 12 at the time and comics were my life. I was into the X Men (as any right thinking outcast kid in the suburbs should be). Everything was comics. They covered my walls, my few friends were collectors and we would trade all day long.

So, a quick study of this is I was a kid who was into fantasy. Not the wizards and sword and sandals stuff. The deepest I could go into that vibe was the Frazetta posters that also adorned my tiny teen bedroom. And I’m not convinced I hung those there for any reason than I was 12 and the girls started to interest me.

This was my life. My parents even brought me to my first Comic Convention which was NOT a Comic Con. It definitely had more the vibe of the Waterbury Record Shows (on Sunday Mornings!) held at Ramada (or w.e.). Meaning it was generally middle aged dudes who smelled foul.

It was not until the Waterbury Record Shows that I realized poor hygiene was a tactic. Smelling bad was an excellent way to make sure nobody stands to close to you as you are digging for gold among the crates of vinyl.

So I was a nerd, but so were you, don’t lie.

I had always had older brothers and sisters and cousins who brought around music. Despite my young age, I was raised on Yes records and first albums James and I received for Christmas which were ‘Queen: Live Killers’ and ‘Aerosmith Live Bootleg’. Also an 8 track of ‘David: Live’.

Which if you boiled down the elements, you get my musical career.

So I was aware of rock music, considered myself a fan but it was comics. Until that Sunday Night ….

I was getting ready for school and had 99.1 Rock on because I believed that was what I was supposed to do. I barely owned any records of my own aside from a few single 45’s my Dad would get for James and I whenever he hit it in the Lottery. Understand I am not talking about ‘Lottery Winners’. That term itself is an oxymoron. If he made a few bucks on the horses or daily numbers, we would know when we received a 45. I remember my first one was Thin Lizzy ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ and James opted for David Bowie ‘Golden Years’

(Which if you boil down the elements….etc.)

So it was 99.1 Rock Radio on all the time. Dr Demento was likely what brought me there. The real prize was ‘The King Biscuit Flour Hour’. In a pre-YouTube universe this was where you heard performers live. It was the only way, at the time.

So, getting ready for School Monday on a Sunday night and the show starts. The opening sponsored announcements. I barely paid attention.

Then the bell.

The fucking bell changed everything.

On the Heaven and Hell Tour. Opening number ‘Black Sabbath’. I knew none of this at the time (my sister listened to Volume 4 which when I hear again I knew every word without knowing I did).

All I knew was the sound of wind and rain, howling and the Bell. My ears perked up like a dog who heard a can being opened. I sat right down and stopped everything. The World itself stopped spinning and all focus was on me and my speakers.

‘What is this that stands before me?’

What’s Your Story?

So, cracking open the Nu Music Marketing 2020 Bible (Do not look for this. It doesn’t exist.) it looks like we are up to the Bio section. Prove your worth in under 300 words.

Using words. Stupid words.

I like words as anyone who happened to read this before will know. Not necessarily correctly spelled words. No words that have never existed before I forced them into some public dialog. Words are flexible and fun. Are they entertaining? Yes. Can they describe the total picture? Perhaps not.

When considering what I wanted to say about myself and CiC, I pictured creating a hieroglyphic bio, something with dogs and coffee and sunrises and stars and more coffee. I like coffee. Something that would bring the reader into my fractured world of…words. Without words.

Have you noticed if you say the word ‘words’ over and over and over again, it loses meaning? It is a sound, but not really a word. This is after repeated applications.

Anyway…. words (see?). The practical plan for Bio writing is simple:

  1. List your accomplishments (actual not imaginary …. Though it’s only words, right? So, who cares? The Music Business cares, that’s who! Fly right!)
  2. Describe your sound (though its accurate, I don’t think my genre tag of ‘Sounds like two robots f*cking’ will please the Overlords of The Music Business)
  3. Always written in third person. (I prefer 5th Person because from a fifth person perspective, one starts to “feel” the system in a different way, recognizing that one’s own perspective on and in the Anthropocene is merely a perspective, which itself is a perspective, which in turn is a perspective. Am ’I Right?’
  4. List 2 or three influences (OK, so I’m opting for Poverty, Validation and The Mountain Goats)
  5. Always list what is happening RIGHT NOW!! NOW!!! (I am endlessly pushing a stone up a hill for eternity. Forecast for tomorrow: the same damned day)
  6. List any Music Business contact you have. (I know Elvis Costello. Well I saw Elvis Costello. From a stage. Does that count?)
  7. Be Engaging! (Fu* k Off!)

So I balance all of this sage advice with the fact that …well…words. Ya know? You don’t? Let me explain…

Blah blah…. blah blah blah blah blah blahblah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…blah…blah blah.

You see? Sure you do.

So before I write a real Bio for the Music Business I wanted to try one here:

Cursive is Code, or CiC for short is a new group featuring singer / songwriter Jason P Krug (Award Winning Mountain Climbing Professional Bowler who is three inches taller than his listed height) and Julie Kay (sweetest patch of grass on the Earth and a noted Baker / liberal nutjob).

Together and with their previous band The Grimm Generation they have knocked out Muhammad Ali, swam the English Channel, tamed a wild beast with a song…and some drugs…Lots of drugs.

The Cursive is Code sound has been described as ‘Who?’

The sound is based on their love of Sammy Davis Jr (early work), Ministry and that one song from that one move…what is that song…dammit….

Currently CiC is writing their bio.

My Bliss Keeps A Beat

This past Saturday was like most in the Summer of 2020, this Covid Summer: hot and humid, Saturday Morning roads a buzzing with trailers and boats, nothing to do anywhere. So we have taken to long rides, good coffee and a playlist that gets created Saturday Morning.

I am always in charge of the Playlist, but serve up a helping of what makes my Girl tap her foot. Oddly more often Boy Rock like Janes, Rage, Soundgarden. She is a girl too. Despite this.

It is a team effort.

My own Saturday selection tend to run the gamut of British Glam and of course, some Goats. And a selection of what came out new that week, whatever it may be.

When you meet someone that you are supposed to meet, like in a real and lasting sense, you notice that as time goes by you tend to pick up on the musical history of your mate. Because everyone wants to hear something that makes them happy, makes them shake, even makes them sad.

It is personal. But if you spend enough time with someone, you find yourself being drawn into those same reactions.

And one of those reaction, which can not be underestimated, calculated, figured is joy.

So this past Saturday I set up my list and included some LCD Soundsystem. Julie and Carmen tuned me on to them when I still assumed that they were something I would not care for. And yes, assumed they were British.

LCD is outside of any style of music that I have taken on. Its dance music, with a real working brain…but the dance music aspect I could not wrap my mind around. It was like a buzzing all around me: a quick song caught in the kitchen, a song that popped up on Sirius….and when I would hear it, the reaction was the same: WTF Is that? (the only other band I had this same reaction too was TuneYards. Whenever something would pop up that I loved and was scared by, it was always TuneYards.)

So I downloaded the LCD Soundsystem final show, the MSG show that I would NOW kill a man to see. At the time I was unfortunately blissfully unaware.

But Julie was there. She was there and had the still pefect T Shirt to prove it. She was there.

So tripping our way through the Niantic area a song came on and she turned it up loud. Real Loud. The car shook. And the song began….

It was the live version of ‘North American Scum’ with additional assistance of Arcade Fire screaming along to the chorus. It was enthralling. Incredible. The road washed out around me as I just let go and whooped along.

It was pure joy of music too loud. It was the actual Bliss of brilliant song and brilliant band, at the tip top of their absolute magic and powers.

It shook me with how beautiful life is. How lucky I am to hear this song on this day. The genuine thrill of being genuinely scared by music.

The windows came down and Julie drove faster and faster. The world around seemed to slow. There was nothing but Julie and Me taking off for unknown galaxies in a little blue rocket.

I remembered what I should remember every day: This is what we get. Guard your bliss with more passion than you guard your money.

And turn it up. Loud.

30 Days At The Crossroads – Part 10

Such a strange morning. Another day heavy with grey clouds, the full breasted blush of Autumn now stick figures stretching into the void .  Sipping hot coffee to still the shudders. I feel off planet, an alien hologram of myself. I cannot shake it.

 I have no recall of writing that sentence last night.

Wrapped in an assembly of weather warm fabrics, the chill was bearable. I busied myself with a running list of the things I would buy when the money comes. I must have passed out during the travel section as I remember the image of blue water and black sand. Then nothingness.

I heard music.  A melody. Repeating and beating louder between my ears. I assumed in my sleep I hit something on my phone.  My phone was off and still resting on the seat. I knew it wasn’t the radio as the keys sat next to the phone. And a assembly of melodies converged in my head, growing impatient.

I tried to focus but it was all surreal. There was something familiar within it. Eventually I recognized was that all the melodies, converging, crossing, swelling, were all sung in my voice. Falsetto and low gravel, every instrument was my instrument. My voice doing things I could never imagine.

Then oblivion. And I woke up in my car.

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Is a caterpillar aware of what it is becoming, the wings it will grow, the colors it will bring?  Is a bug aware of what it will become right before it hits the windshield?

For better or far worse, change comes to every creature on the planet.

Which is as reasonable a way to describe the last two days.

The melody. It slithers in the back of my head until I sleep, and then it struts. Incessant. With a strong hook.  A good beat you can dance too.

When I awoke with the melody beaming in my brain, I was compelled to grab my guitar and make something out of it. It was intimidating. Like being given a live check for millions but having a fake ID.

I found my way to a friend’s house who was sweet enough to let me shower and get myself together. Being flush with real indoors and genuine heat, I put myself on the couch, broke out my pad, my pen and my digital recorder. And started to play.

It was the strangest feeling. My fingers worked their way around the tune and added swerves and curves. It wasn’t  conscious. The less I thought about it, the more I noticed that I was playing guitar in a way I have never been able to play.

I hack at my guitar, beat it into submission while screaming out my precious words. This was different. A near genius level of altering and repeating the notes , repetition, repetition, repetition.  Hypnotic notes flowed from my guitar while I barely considered where this skill came from.

It was said that Robert Johnson disappeared that day on the Crossroads only to appear a few years later with an ability to play that shocked folks who knew him. Some said it was the work of The Devil. Some said it was the work of hard and focused learning.  I had not practiced in weeks.

I was not thinking this at the time. I was not thinking at all.

I felt myself breathing, lungs inhale and exhale. I felt the weight of the guitar on my knee, the scent of candles burned down days ago. Everything within my physical body became acute. Detailed. I felt the sun shine on my back, the deafening drip of a faucet somewhere.

My fingers worked and my voice worked with it. The more I played, the more distant I became from playing. It was instinct. It was flexing  knowledge I never learned.

It was a gift.

ROBERT JOHNSON (1911-1938). American blues musician. Dime store photo from the 1930s.

30 Days At The Crossroads – Part 9

Dusk comes to the crossroads. A decided chill in the air as we press through November, and not having the finance to run the heater, I am layered in most of the clothes I brought.

Such a strange place. I feel invisible here. I expected that some local cop would eventually pull up and check my purpose. I thought that the folks who travel this route would be gawking at me, wondering what exactly I was up too. I have not seen a single person even look in my direction. It is solitude. And it should not be.

Things like this make me wonder. Is it this place, so often driven that it becomes automatic reflex to focus on the road? Is it my purpose here that allows a spectral anonymity?

It is a strange feeling to be in a wilderness while being about a 8 minute ride from a WalMart.

_______________________________________________________________________

Beyond the half way point of November and no signs of progress. No nightly visitors, no pens of flame or blood. Just waiting causing me to question whether this is my residency in Hell. If that is the case I could do worse.

It is sunny today. Most of the leaves have left. The lovely burnished red of the foliage replaced daily with naked branch and blue sky blooming. The grass going from summer green to earthen tones.

I know the rhythms of the seasons. I have lived here all my life. This land of Devils.

That is not said as an opinion. New England born and raised.And always driving distance to some place with ‘Devil’ or ‘Hell’ in the title. As far as I recall, this was Puritan lands back in the beginning, and anything that was considered unusual was named unnatural. And a place where mysteries let loose. Devils were always about according to the Puritans. And names such as Devils Den, Devils Hopyard, Satans Kingdom, Hell Hole were given to the places that pricked at the cosmological conscience were warned away from. 

The country, the USA, started on this side (meaning East)and so the oldest and more arcane history comes from here. It gets in your blood here, the dirty ground of real history. It redeems your daylight and electric candles as weapons against the cold Yankee nights.

There is blood in the ground here. Older blood sunk deeper into the soil. We have attached to our homeland witch hunts and Native American massacres, famous murder and forgetful grounds. As a kid, I ate this up. The book I would always own was the collection of Yankee Magazine Myths and Legends. There are vampires in Jewett City, mysterious ‘BOOMS’ out of Moodus, bodies buried beneath New Haven Green, the Melon heads stalk Dracula Drive in Yourtown, USA. Every part of the country reflects its age in its fears, whether it is roving gangs of homicidal hippies in the California hills or dead shot long dead gunslingers in the west.

Here, our history is longer and fears more traditional, rooted in mystical depths. And that brings us to Hell.

We use the tools we have available to review any threat. In these modern days, mysteries are knocked down with regularity. Science tracks the phenomena, action and reaction and creates a hypothesis. The concept gets debated, back and forth, sometimes for centuries.

Without the science, we are left with faith. What someone wants to believe, someone will believe. If you believe your suffering will allow you a better view in Heaven,you cannot be dissuaded. If someone avoids the simple carnal pleasures for fear of dropping down into Hell, you will not be convinced. Even using plain science, where facts are not negotiable, people will see what they want to in the results and base their opinions on this flawed logic. And will not be unconvinced.

The Northeaster woods crawl with witches and boil with entrances to the abyss. The shore speaks of ghosts of pirates and haunted lighthouses. The cities whisper with murders and long held grudges coming to boil. We are cold people, in a cold place. As cold as the stones that sit in our multitude of cemeteries. As cold as the bodies that lay beneath.

 And we will not be unconvinced.

—————————————————————————————————-

Cloudy night with a glow of the Moon distant. Deeper shadows round the crossroads tonight.

What will it be like when I am rich and famous? What will it be like knowing what waits when I eventually flame out completely. Is having nothing an audition for losing everything?

_____________________________________________________________

I have a song in my head. It shook me from a dead sleep. That has never happened before.

30 Days At The Crossroads Part 8

The benefit of being wholly alone has it’s upsides. The ridiculous things you do are shared privately and there is no Greek Chorus warming up in the pit.

Someone who was aware of what I was doing out here, what I wanted and what I was prepared to pay, was perhaps a loss. I live so much in my own head that I doubt if someone offered advice, I would even be able to make sense of the sentence.  My inner dialog has gone native

The positive is that when you do something embarrassing, you can get up the next day no worse for wear. That last night, recalled here, was embarrassing. A bad dream mixed with random nature had me running like a kid though a graveyard. The first sign of something scary had me sleeping in the swampy green light of a Target. Bad form.

I had long thoughts about what I would do next that morning, after the morning sun shook the night off. I had no place else to go. Death or Glory, right?

What if Death was not Death at all, but a quick blip before you wake up elsewhere? I did not believe in Heaven even a bit. I did not believe our good deeds were calculated and fed through a formula that decide the resting place of your soul. I absolutely believed in Hell.

It is a contradiction. I l know that. I have never been able to apply a working logic to it. I believe life is fundamentally bad. And as workers of these dirt driven fields, we turn bad right along with it. There is joy in moments and these times need keep us steely against another bad spin of fortune.

Life is not fair, but it was never advertised as such.

I drank coffee until I started to feel whole again. I knew I would go back to the crossroads that night. And every night following. Because I had nothing else.

___________________________________________________________________

When I returned in the bright 3 o’clock sunlight, I felt foolish all over again. This was practically the fucking suburbs. This was not Mississippi and the only thing haunting these fields was me. I settled in, slid my seat back and waited.

As noted, waiting is my sport. I was made for this, though I kept on having thoughts creeping into my head about whether waiting was enough.

Sacrifice was the word that kept coming in unannounced. Tap, tap, tapping.

What if there was missing text in the accumulated legends?What if every single person who successfully made this pact brought something to show how serious they were? What if a bird was simply an offering? I pondered this as the sun slid away and night came to the crossroads.

11/14/18__________________________________________________________________________

As  I got older, my writing changed. It was almost a return to my 9 year old form. It was confessional where before it was clever. This wasn’t  a decision. I came to recognize that the writing was therapy. It was my nurse and it was my weapon. And I needed both in those days.

I cannot chart the exact age that my ego eclipsed my sweeter nature. I think it was a byproduct of living so deeply in my own head, I made a kingdom in there. And to the king go the spoils.

It came with a small measure of success, getting recognized,getting heard, my songs at last touch the radio airwaves. I took it too far, as was my nature.

I started to become cooler, not only in attitude but in empathy. And since my esteem couldn’t balance the small size of the aforementioned success, I started crafting a new persona. Less geeky chat(which is me) and more cool long looks. It was cheap but it was effective. I attracted attention. And the attention I craved wasn’t press or prestige. It was women.

And I became callous. To the king go the spoils. Even the most spoiled ones.

The songs became my rationalization for every deed and misdeed done. If I wanted a heartbreak song, I went out and got my heart broke.If I needed a redemption song, I found someone silly enough to redeem me and out it to paper. I did not write love songs . Too revealing.

I stepped out using the patter of a stranger, a sick ego and clever tongue. It goes a long way in the world.

I felt a darkness. Within. And I liked it. My songs became the E Ticket reason for everything I did to myself. And to others. Every unhealthy habit was a grand tradition in the life of an artist. I drank deeply.

No friends ever mentioned the change in me. No one longed for the better version of me. I was more successful with this character I decided to become than all the love lorn years leading up to it. And so I pressed on.

I hurt people. For the songs. I pushed the edges of decent behavior. For the songs. I dine out on fabricated stories of my life as a rogue. And songs came from that too.

I felt myself draining away from the world leaving my imposter to take my place. And he flourished.

It was not like the 80’s style comeback story movies I grew up on. The record was played, and played again all over the country. I received sweet words and sales were not great. The time spent working to the lower middle took its toll on everyone involved. And it was gone.

No one was asking what I would do next. No one missed what I brought to the banquet.

People went the way of the World and spun away. I did not take it personally. I was barely a person at that point.

That was not long ago now.  It lead me right to this dirty cross of blacktop.

30 Days At The Crossroads – Part 7

Saturday Night and I just got paid. Not accurate, but still a heady line. I will not see folding money again till this is over. I have been thrifty banking on the gas I use each day to get here versus 30 days. If it takes that long. And if it doesn’t, I simply don’t know.

My landscape is changing around me ushering in the cold, dead season ahead. The leaves that reached over my parking spot, which glowed dying fire as the chlorophyll blanched out are now skeletal limbs that shimmer and crack. The dead leaves carpet the roots of the tree where my black bird friend watched after me. The grass is slowing down and going brown.

I have not had any further astral visitors. I am no longer sure if I expect any. I am zealous. 20 days to go.

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Fuck.  I have never been so afraid in my life.

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The sun is coming up over the Target parking lot. Another gray day in a series. And I am still shivering badly.

I knew I was going to spend the night at the crossroads. I gathered whatever winter wear I had remaining. November gets cold at night and I could not afford to use my heat.

I sat in layers and listened.  Wind teased the highest branches and flicked rain on my windshield. It was peaceful.  This was my home, my native land. There was not a whip snap of a branch or cry of an animal new to me.  I lived round hear all my life.

I had a dream, which itself was peculiar. I do not dream. I have not dreamed in years.

I was in a hotel room, but not the type I have stayed in much. As opposed to the modern version of lodging with its single serve coffee maker and fire exit maps on the door, this was clearly an older style hotel, something akin to city life. The windows were open and I heard sounds of life being lived many down below. Car brakes and horns, industrial sounds of steam and distant voices.

I was fully dressed, the lights on, the windows open. Big band music churned out of a radio on the bedside table, adding to the time out of time feeling. And beneath , the sound of running water. I looked around the room and saw a door with light leaking from below. Small shadows of movement buzz in the refracted light.

I stared at the door.  Nervous. I had no reason to be nervous. It was palpable within.

I heard a sigh, decidedly feminine behind the door. Then the lights went out beneath the door. And the sound, all those city sounds, went dead in a blink. The only sound was of the Big Band music slowly devolving into static and scratch.

I sat frozen in place as the lights in the room shut off. And the bathroom door opens.

What was strange, even within the dream, was that the windows that were letting the sound in, seemingly open and brimming with life, were pure black spaces now.There was no light at all.

‘tap…..tap….tap’

My breath caught in my throat. I was terrified. ‘tap….tap….tap’. It was distinct and it was getting closer. ‘tap….tap…tap’. I could not move a muscle.It was blackness and increasing tension. True mortal fear. I felt as alone as I ever had in life.

‘tap…tap…tap.’

I could not see it. I did not want t see it. I crushed my palms to my eyes.

My eyes opened and I was at the crossroads, in the driver’s seat. The dream spun away from me. It felt like it was evaporating all around me. I started to calm down,relief like a physical rush.

‘tap…tap…tap’.

On the passenger side window, on the back windshield. ‘tap…tap…tap’

Light scratching sounds on the roof. ‘tap…tap…tap’ Though I could not see anything, I knew what it was.

My brain was a block of ice. Pure Instinct started the car and floored it, fishtailing wildly away from the crossroads.

30 Days At The Crossroads – Part 6

I felt a prickling on my skin like electrical charges right as it happened. It was a flicker but a flicker that seemed to last far past flickering. And looked upon the biggest black bird I had ever seen perch 15 feet away.

I felt uneasy. It was not the proximity. It was the focus. The bird perched and turned to me and froze. Black eyes focused. Not on the car, but on me. I could not forget that static charge that hit me in the moment. It felt…significant.

Was this it? Did ‘it’ even exist? Am I slowly losing my shit, as has been mentioned?

It sat still. Still as ancient things. It reminded me of a woodcut found in one of those dusty library books I favored about omens and monsters of yore. And it stared. Not that the car, not into the field looking for dinner. Stock still staring directly at me. Into me.

It made me uncomfortable. I had to consider if I was letting my nerves get the best of me. Then was struck with the single thought ‘What did you expect?’.

Was this an overture? Was there a step I needed to learn in this dance? The bird sat mute and frozen; no guidance would come from that direction. Should I approach? Was this the invitation?

My car and pulled away slowly. It’s eyes followed me as far as I can see.

I took comfort that night in a dear friends flesh and a lot of liquor. It was gone the next morning when I returned.

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I am used to waiting. I have a long habit of always arriving early, so waiting became a skill. I note the same ruts on the road, the same jeep tracks, heading off road that I have gazed at for days, which kicks my mind into questioning ‘where were they going? Did they get there? The same road trash that comes and go with the wind. The same shade from the same trees, now less shady with the leaves coming down. I sit and I collect my thoughts and I print them here, for reasons still unknown.

I wait and I wonder. What happens if I am successful? Would I suddenly have the secret song in my pocket that will allow my ascension? Will the chords come together naturally, or perhaps unnatural? Would  I receive a letter that says ‘Congrats Kid. Your gonna be a Starrrrr.?

Or would I simply disappear, not being legal or bright enough to know the full extent of the contract?

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And so my life as a performer began. Not in klieg lights and limousines, but in late night gigs at dingy bars playing the white trash American Songbook. It would not last long. As a writer, I wanted to make hits, not play the hits. So I started to learn the guitar and picked up a 4 Track Cassette Recorder.

If I can chart the specifics of when I became a day trader in this life, when I began a lifelong preoccupation with profane ways to call ordinary actions, or the necessary extra syllable that would make that chorus bulletproof, this was that day.

I knew the accepted way to become a figure in that early 90’s music business economy:  start local, work local, build a following,make a record, get radio, perhaps a video, get press, get fans….repeat until you’re driving sold gold Cadillac’s. There is a simplicity to that metric,makes creative thought and the sharing of it into a Wikipedia page of how to farm.

I could not go that route, always thinking of myself as the creative engineer of better mousetraps.

How correct I was can likely be summarized in where I write this from. A beat up car on a beat up road, seeking higher guidance from lower associations. Desperation was a concept until I got desperate.

I started to let go of the world. I started to forget what was required of me to be a well thought, likable adult. I started to obsess on the ways I would flaunt my wealth and success among those many who did not believe in me. Belief is a drug and that and no one was selling it. I daydreamed conversations with the magazine clippings I kept as friends. The advice they would offer, and what I would offer back.

The ‘Myself’that brought me to the party seemed to leave with someone else, and what I had left was the Myth. I was pleased.

While others planned a future, I plotted a course for International stardom on my own terms.I remember the sloganeering that became my reasoning: This is all I can do. I cannot fix cars, cannot do math, can barely spell, much less punctuate. It is Death or Glory.

That was years ago now. Death keeps coming into the foreground. Day by day. Glory is still ethereal.

I worked at jobs, always considered ‘Joe Jobs’ to me, cause my work was what I did after hours. Honestly, I have no clue how I was hired at all. I did not have the resume, but I think my inner workings of global domination gave the outer appearance of confident. My ‘Devil May Care’ attitude and decent diction hid the lack of care I truly owned.  Every job I had was a static place held together by what my next move was artistically.

I hid it well. At some jobs.

I allowed myself any number of behaviors I would never have suggested to anyone else. My particular version of ‘Death or Glory’ did not invite passengers. I was a wide ranging experiment on the power of self involvement and ego. I was the subject and I did the research. I excused this self lechery and leering by reminding myself that what I was doing was aiming higher than most.

I was willing to bet it all. I did bet it all. I never even got the see the wheel spin.

Are these thoughts insane? I ask you as I have no one left to ask. Whoever you may be and however you will come across this confession / transcript. Does everyone consider themselves a God of their own world? Is that a bad thing? I was told something in passing that I keep as armor: There is no such thing as a false sense of well being. If you feel well,you are well.

My logic was flawed. And I would do it all again the same way.