Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Very Spiritual College Memory... (fragment)

"I'm more enlightened than you are, Matt," said the simpering idiot we called a drummer in our space rock band.

I couldn't stop laughing at him, it was just too much. My laughter grew to uncontrollable cackling, and I could feel him tense-up next to me. To my amazement, he was actually getting angry.

"You know, you can laugh, but... ," he helplessly continued. I almost felt sorry for him and the hole he just couldn't stop digging. Some people are their own punishment, and he was no exception to the gaggle of jackapes I had to endure at that time.

He then went on some strange tirade of how I was "fragmented," and a whole lot of new age psychobabble sprinkled with bits of the Maharishi's philosophy he thought-up when he wasn't trying to fondle women like Mia Farrow. I was also incredibly evil to eat meat, even though we established that I and most working-class Americans couldn't afford to eat healthy (or much at all) on a strictly vegetarian diet.

"Well yes, I am laughing, glad you noticed. Do you have any idea how ridiculous it sounds when someone says something like that, especially coming from you?" I said. From there, I dissected his tirade, but it wouldn't have been that challenging for a ten-year-old.

Some explanations are in order: he was possibly one of the most unethical human beings I have ever met aside from my ex-wife. He had had sex with a 13-year-old girl, was a constant source of conflict in our merely OK band, and thought of himself as some prog-rock luminary on drums. He wasn't, and lacked the rudiments that even a simple drummer like Ringo Starr could master. I'm no Jimi Hendrix, and a Ringo-style drummer was what I wanted, but a half-assed Neal Peart
was what I got. A drum machine plugged-into a PA system would have been better, the audience-be-damned...

He would do drum solos over literally everything we played and had no sense of musical dynamics or expression whatsoever (I have the tapes to prove it)--something I suspect he still hasn't grasped. Another member of the band was consistently late every time. He always triend to "bum a smoke" off of everyone he encountered, mumbling his requests like some nebbish cartoon character out of central casting.

One time I came over to where we practiced, and found he had cut his hand when he punched the mirror in his room. Apparently he didn't like what he saw--like everyone else who had the misfortune of encountering him. The "bass-player/singer" was literally hated by everyone at the university, and I would imagine still is by anyone in his immediate proximity.

If you've ever been in a garage band, you've probably had to deal with these kinds of boorish assholes at least once: they promise the moon and lie about how committed they are, they constantly threaten to quit when they don't get their way, they are completely irresponsible and unreliable, and they are the most profound examples of the egomaniac this side of politics (hence the term, "band politics"). If it sounds like the behavior or retarded five-year-olds, then you're getting the picture. This is why drum machines are so popular, and why you find a lot of musical artists these days who prefer buying a portable studio setup and going it alone. Sampling, drum machines, and computer-sequencing of music were all invented to remove people like this from the musical equation, as well as the interpersonal one. Not-so-ironically, these are the same people who whine about these technological developments. No pity here. But we were going-on about "spirituality," weren't we? It all seems to fit anyway.

"Your personality is fragmented, Matt, you aren't well," said the pedophile drummer.

In our modern reality where we're constantly bombarded with information and advertising, what does a statement like that mean? We were all fucked-up, and we were in our twenties. There were other factors at-play: Muncie was-and-is an economically depressed and unpleasant corrupt kind of town, but then, so is the rest of Indiana. Muncie just happens to be worse than the rest of the state, except Gary and a few rural shitholes that used to have sundown laws.

When the former drummer was saying
that last bit to me, all I could think was, "Well, right, and being around you isn't ever going to help that." There was a strong compulsion to kick him down the flight-of-stairs that led up to our sallow, decrepit apartment. This is one of the great regrets of my life, besides ever getting married. I didn't need to say anything else to this clown, and he was leaving his hometown, the reason for the visit. When I say "goodbye" to people, I always try to argue with them in some juvenile competition. It must serve him well in the corporate world. Why must my life resemble a late-period Philip K. Dick novel? Being young isn't much fun at all, and I don't miss that time in my life. If your youth was the best-part of your life, it's your own fault, and you're probably not being realistic about much of anything. It was 1992, a wretched year, but at least the L.A. riots livened things up a bit. Here's to more of them, nostalgia-be-damned!