good morning ~
today’s track features some samples I made of the white upright piano I grew up playing which now lives comfotably next to a freeway in my sister’s living room in California, you can hear the cars if you listen closely ~ the album art is a picture of a beached whale near the Marin headlands
I’m very happy to be putting on two shows this weekend:
Friday: I’ll be playing in Catskill, NY at the wonderful Avalon Lounge with western Mass cuties Home Body, then my buddy Max is gonna spin some tunes. It happens to be my birthday and I truly hope to dance all night long - plus my set will include some new work of mine which, hopefully, you can dance to. Tickets and info here.
Saturday: the July installment of the OTHER SOUNDS experimental concert series in the Berkshires, this time featuring percussionist / vibe maker Matt Evans (who recently put out a very beautiful album). It’s been thundering all week up here so we’re moving the show indoors and I hope you join me in laying on the floor while Matt plays the piano. Info + tickets.
I also wanted to note that this week marks one year living in Troy, NY and also one year of not having steady employment - been a weird, sometimes tough time relying on music income and freelance gigs in this crumbling riverside town but making it to a year feels like an accomplishment. Thanks for your interest and/or support in what I’m doing - I really appreciate and in fact rely on it!
You will never be a good person.
Whatever set of tasks or hurdles or acts of spiritual warfare you’ve laid out for yourself will never vault you to where you yearn to be. You will never be safe from your own analysis, you will never be one hundred percent certain that you are commendable. There will never be that big, warm hand that breaks through the clouds to affectionately pat you on the shoulder, no cosmic reassurance.
No no, in this life you have to do your own reassurance, you gotta tally it up yourself. You’re your own arbiter, your own yardstick, your own CPA, crunching impossible, wavering numbers.
You are not simply a result of your upbringing, nor a mere reflection of your family and their shared genetics. You’re not some blunt biological dice roll, recessive and dominant matchups, the obviously predictable result from the zygotes you started as. You may resemble your family members, in ways both charming and alarming (doomed to become them, some might say), but you yourself and fate and time have had a hand in bringing you here, to this discrete point, apart from - yet tethered to - your origin.
You are also not simply a result of the various logistical circumstances you were born into - where, when, in what order with other siblings. Where you’ve lived and grown in your life can feel like central columns in your temple of identity but it is ultimately just a part of a larger construction (“oh, you’re from California?” is a surprised sentence I have heard many times).
Astrology can be a fun and, for many people, a very deep, rewarding lens with which to view the world, but you can work against your star-given tendencies, or eschew them entirely. You are neither redeemed nor fated by the celestial.
You are very obviously not simply a crunched number in a bank account, not an amassing of wealth (“you can’t take it with you,” says your mom on the phone). Though having money can make life easier and having no money can make life feel impossible, debt and abundance very obviously have nothing to do with whether or not you’re a good person. That cliched lower class line - “you’re not better than me” - turns out to hold profound truth. Jesus busting in the temple and flipping the tables of the money changers (how fucked up is it that, in America at least, we tell kids that if they’re good, they’ll receive material rewards and wealth at Christmas? We download the prosperity gospel from the get go).
Though it can be tempting to think this way, however many people follow you or look at photos of you or interact with you online isn’t the defining characteristic of your life and personality. It’s not a reflection of your worth, or your interest, or the worth of your work, or your hotness, in the end. It’s a reflection of how compellingly you translate to a square image, or a sound bite, or a little fragment of shareable culture (a little like how standardized tests ultimately measure how good you are at standardized tests, do you really want to live your life according to the whims of the likes?).
Your body is not your entire identity, either, and what it looks like or how it performs is not the be-all end-all of your worth. How much weight you lose or gain in a year doesn’t finally show the world who you really are. This is so self-evident: there are plenty of assholes that run marathons or bench 250 pounds, and anyway not everyone is able-bodied. And what your body weighs or does is ultimately a non-factor in that all-too-elusive determinant of attractiveness: does weighing less fix your vibe?
And the thing you hold most dear is probably not even true. You savor the restorative power of work. You believe that if you simply do the work with humility and diligence that, not only will the work be good, but you yourself will be good as well, and held in high regard. But there is plenty of terrible work done diligently, too many dumb ideas seen through. And there is work that is effortless, spontaneous, full of ease and breezy that is better than anything anyone could hack away at day after day. Good work is possible, but it is not promised to you, no matter how much you sweat.
The truth is that you will never be a good person. And that is because, really, there is no such thing. No one is without value, no one is beyond redemption. People are not inherently good, nor are they inherently bad. There are folks that choose to act reprehensibly, some again and again, but beyond some very to-the-core of our being tenets who are you to define the reprehensible?
You are a person, with some amount of agency. You can choose to live judiciously, according to your codes and beliefs (things, by the way, you can adopt and change as you go - there’s agency in what you hold true, as well). Judge your actions if you must, but allow yourself and, by extension, the rest of us some charity: you are a person, in all that word entails - ever flawed, never ceasing.
But what about you? Are you tallying it all up? Do you think you’re a good person? Who or what is patting you on the shoulder?