good morning ~
today’s audio started with a cassette tape recording of some guitar loops and became this lovely little gnarled zone, a bit like the bright blast of sun I’m squinting into as I write this
thank you to all of you who came to the CICADA WAVES live stream this past weekend - it was very cute! hopfeully telling you one final run of cute merch and maybe some more shows very very soon. WAVES was also recently featured on Aquarium Drunkard.
the experimental music concert series I’m organizing in western Mass continues this weekend with a gig featuring Seven Count, a wild trio of improvisers. They’ll be playing outdoors on Saturday at Dewey Hall, a historic and very beautiful venue in Sheffield. Tickets here, if you’re in spitting distance.
Also, if you’re a Bandcamp user - well actually, if you’re not, you should be - this Friday the platform is donating its revenue share to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in honor of Juneteenth. A great day to buy music, and a great day to check out this important website to help you do so.
Is this email useful to you? Is it grounding, is it reliable? Is it fun?
I know that it is too much, too large and too involved of a project. And yet.
I have never in my life wanted anything besides too much. I want it exploding, I want it overfull, I want the cup to runneth over, to cascade into other cups that also runneth over, a never-ending champagne fountain of whatever’s at hand. I’m not one to be understated or subtle or delicate or particularly graceful. I’m not bragging about this tendency, not at all, because it’s often exhausting, and when you wring every last drop out of the soggy rag the soggy rag wrings you out in return.
Up and up, my girlfriend calls it, that urgent, ever-rising, catch-a-wave-and-take-it feeling I’m looking for and occasionally find on dance floors, treadmills, or on stage. When I first started playing out we had a tendency to play the last song “until we couldn’t play it anymore.” Our collapsing or our instruments breaking or the power being pulled on us was an inherent part of the composition - if we ended the show politely or all together and at once we hadn’t truly performed the song. We had to draw blood or fly steaming into the backyard pool. Up and up.
But it’s not just a matter of wildness or exuberance or of hitting the crash cymbals as loud as you can. Because the opposite is just as appealing - being as still as can be, approaching the nothing or holding a tone - whether musical or interpersonal - for as long as possible. Simply walking a long distance in a day (was I once really so obsessed with counting my steps?) or merely waking up before the sun does can sometimes scratch the itch. Taking the overnight Chinatown bus to North Carolina and refusing to use headphones or the Internet - a needlessly pyrrhic overland journey that, in fitful bouts of 20 minutes of sleeping, burned down my workaday mental routines and left me squinting in downtown Greensboro at 6am, a brand new man sipping an iced coffee on the sidewalk.
I behave impulsively, or I struggle with moderation, or I am often inconsiderate in service of a feeling of more, or a feeling of right now. All absolutely fair to say. It’s certainly not always a good thing - my willingness to go along with needing to drink just one more in my twenties led to some deep, dark partying I’d rather never relive (a come-to-jesus moment while trespassing late at night on a train bridge in Czechoslovakia, chasing down a drunk driver who I found eating pizza in the back seat of my buddy’s borrowed car, the always horrible feeling of coming home to your apartment to see the apartment door wide open). I very rarely drink at all now - the many hard seltzers I enjoyed in Texas recently notwithstanding - but I’ve always eaten with gusto, damn, you bet, as Jonathan Richman would say. More and more, up and up, trophy-winning member of the clean plate club, always down to travel far out of the way for a special meal or, as I did recently in Brooklyn, eat two entire dinners with my buddies in Sheepshead Bay. I’ve got an iron stomach and an appetite that never bends the knee.
For a while circa 2018/19 I had it dialed in - I could balance my undying love of running on the treadmill and listening to loud, kinda bad music (up and up) with my Roman-senator level need for carnal indulgence. The more I ran, the more I could eat. In fact the more I ran the more I needed to eat, simply couldn’t get enough calories ever. And as I lost pound after pound and got fitter and fitter I felt that my other incessant desire grew even stronger, that of being around and being held/beheld by people. The hours of dancing, the many bands, the running around after running on the treadmill, a wonderful if sometimes alarming feedback loop. Up and up. But it couldn’t keep up.
I have been more or less unable to access these overflow, upward feelings for the last however many months. The places I wanted to be so badly were the ones that were just hilariously not COVID friendly at all: indoor gyms, packed music performances with a crowd singing along, all night dance floors with a sense of freedom and surrender. I have indulged in many things during the year of physical distance - episodes of Star Trek primary among them, followed closely by Szechuan takeout food - but none truly gave me the feeling of ascending to heaven, that feeling of more and more and more. And so I’m here in this space,as a result searching for rigor and challenege and boundary breaking and intimacy and attention and quietude and the feeling of an entire piano being hurled down a never-ending escalator in this humble little email. More and more, up and up, 1,000 words or more and a piece of music I hunch over for hours each week, sent out to you.
There is up and up out there, now, available for the privileged among us. I stood at the edge of a party full of strangers this past weekend, one toe over the threshold. I will likely be on a dance floor soon. I have partied among some of my loved ones. I am playing gigs again (although what I’ll play is unclear). I am even back on the treadmill and, of all the COVID reunions I’ve experienced thus far, that one just might be the sweetest. I hope to treat it differently now - to more clearly see how my need for more and now and yes might affect other people and, less importantly, me. But so badly do I want to drink straight from the champagne fountain, yes, now, and more.
But what about you? What’s up? Are you standing on the threshold of the party? Are you more, now, or yes?