(for more information on the upcoming audio project, click on the QUICKSAND link, above)

Quicksand, per Google

Quicksand, per Google

In the mid-90s, I was doing a lot more of my own music.  With Daniel Farris (the Black Pill, a billion other projects), I recorded a lot of my songs — lyrics and music by me.  Some (read: most) of it, on reflection, is terrible, terrible, shit.  My age and (in)experience shows through in a lot of the recordings.

There are, however, a number of songs to which I have a strong attachment — enough to fill a playlist, at least.  Unfortunately, the mixes and playing and arrangements of each song are, to varying degrees, flawed. There’s only one song in the batch that doesn’t stand out like Gary Busey at a MENSA meeting, and even it doesn’t fit in as well as I would like.  Still, the words and notes all still hit a very real emotional resonance with me, and so I’ve decided to rework a batch, to be grouped under the umbrella of QUICKSAND.

Most all of the demos (which can be found here) are primarily me and Daniel, with a lot of drum machine.  Some of the arrangements need serious work, while others are largely okay outside of needing to be better recorded or mixed.

I plan on enlisting the help of a number of musicians that I’ve met over the past fifteen years in rerecording these songs, as well as — if I can somehow cobble together the money for it — getting input from a Well-Known Name or two in the world of music. Fortunately, I’ve got no set timeframe; this isn’t going to be a twenty year project filled with option anxiety, no Chinese Democracy, but I certainly will not rush this — both because I don’t have the unlimited pockets to fund the thing, and because I think a lack of patience and disciplined approach is a large source of the flaws in the demos.

Feel free to comment or add suggestions as I go — I’ll be approaching the ‘album’ track by track over the next month, gathering my thoughts and building my initial plan.  While I have no idea if this will eventually become a commercial project, I approach that thought with doubt; I will, however, in one form or another be making the final product available to the public. What’s the point of making art if not to be shared?

There can be only one (plus a Director’s Cut and a few sequels)

I read Pajiba daily — media criticism with a real sense of humor about the things that they go after — and this nostalgia review is the funniest thing I’ve enjoyed today:

00:28:25: The movie is supposedly full of little historical inaccuracies and bloopers. MacLeod, a damn near 500-year-old Scot orders a fine Scotch “on the rocks.” If you’ve been reading your Boozehound, you know that no self-respecting Scotsman would water down his liquor. You also know there’s no such thing as a Scotsman with self-respect.

Plus, it brought back a little longing to destroy the fond memories I have of the movie. Anyone old enough to remember the glory that is/was Highlander should read this. Anyone too young should go watch the movie, and then poke fun at me for officially having lost my mind.

Of these, Hope…

This past weekend, after the seasonal decorations had come down and the realization that vacation time was over, the impending return to normalcy was tempered for me with an abstract sensation of change.  It’s been a pleasant distraction, almost a feeling of snow in the air or the smell of coming autumn.

Of course, after the cover was pulled off of things at the end of ’08, any change would seem to be for the better.  Watching things bottom out (and I of all people am not blindly optimistic enough to think that we’ve seen the worst of things, but there’s hope), you get past the denial and the despair and start wondering how things will be once the human condition — at least, the American Condition — starts to correct its course.

In a few weeks’ time, Obama will be inaugurated and Bush II will step away from the helm of the country.  Two notable things: I think even a lot of right-leaning people, as hesitant as they may be about Obama, will be glad to see the latter, if not the former.  And second, I think blaming Bush for a lot of the problems is wrong, and will only lead to a continuation of the ills that we’ve all been experiencing over recent memory.

Bush is, I think, nothing worse than inept — certainly not a malignant presense (although I won’t argue that he has surrounded himself with people that even cancer won’t touch).  But whatever your opinion of the man and his regime, placing blame on any one group is dangerous.  Jim Kunstler put it well:

To me, GWB will remain the perfect representative of his time, place, and culture. During his years in Washington, America became a nation of clowns posturing in cowboy hats, bethinking ourselves righteous agents of Jesus in a Las Vegas of the spirit, where wishing was enough to get something for nothing, where “mistakes were made,” but everybody was excused from the consequences of bad choices. (via Clusterfuck Nation)

The place we find ourselves in the latter part of the 00s was decorated and designed by Bush, the Republican-controlled Congress, the religious right and the anti-science fiends, the Wall Street walkers and CEOs who don’t understand the importance of every penny to those less fortuante, the Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans, certainly. But it was also arranged and architected by the liberals, the hippies, the academics — every single one of us, if not for our actions then for our increasingly ho-hum tolerance of bad behavior on the parts of others.

It’s important to add to Kunstler’s statement, “everybody was excused from the consequences of bad choices,” that everyone appears to refuse blame for those choices.  Even when mistakes were made, it was someone else’s fault.  Without accepting this — that we’re all capable of and even prone to making bad choices that have tangible, real consequencees — then we’re doomed to a pattern of wash, rinse, repeat, and all that comes along with it.

In realms both political and financial (and the strange Venn region where the two are inseparable), things came to a head at the end of last year. I think that 2008 was not the Year of Horrible Things, but the Year When The Lies Became Too Big To Hide.  I also think that the curtain was yanked aside, that the dykes finally broke, because we’ve become, as a whole, too complacent to the displays of vice (or, at least, lack of virtue) around us everyday.  Much like those of us who’ve grown up on horror films, increasingly immune to the cheap scares and expensive anatomical FX, it’s seemingly harder and harder for the world at large to get angry and demand accountability.  When the price of gas rose above $4 a gallon, where was anything other than weary acceptance?  When the number of armed forces casualties (or civilian casualties, while we’re at it) surpassed the number killed on 9/11/2001, who other than the fringes were aware, much less upset? As the Bush administration continued to piss on the liberties of the American citizen, who but left-wing bloggers even really cared?

Perhaps it’s a national desensitization to such things.  Maybe it’s that we all got too tired of screaming to work up the energy anymore, or the mountains of accountability-free wrongdoers made us think that fighting back was pointless.  Maybe we just didn’t see where all these things were leading.  Regarding a memo about the President’s power to torture detainees, Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s incoming head of the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote:

Yes, we’ve seen much of it before. And yes, we are counting down the remaining months. But we must regain our ability to feel outrage whenever our government acts lawlessly and devises bogus constitutional arguments for outlandishly expansive presidential power. Otherwise, our own deep cynicism, about the possibility for a President and presidential lawyers to respect legal constraints, itself will threaten the rule of law–and not just for the remaining nine months of this administration, but for years and administrations to come. (via Salon)

With luck, the change that has been occupying my senses and distracting me from the mundane is one for the better (all of those who persist in labelling me a pessimist can take note; at worst, my undying hope for better things would make me a cynical, pragmatic optimist).  In order for that to be the case, though, I think that America needs to stop looking at Obama as hero, come to rescue us all from this mess in which we’ve been placed.  Instead, we need — desperately, I add — to view him as inspiration, as proof that you don’t have to accept your ‘given’ lot in life, as a pivot point around which to change our own practices and perspectives.  We need to learn to accept our part in creating problems, on both small and large scales.  We need to learn to accept the consequences, gracefully if not gratefully, and learn from our mistakes and missteps.  We need to be more forward thinking about probabilities and possibilities, while still enjoying the here and now.

If we don’t quit acting like children, the universe isn’t going to quit treating us as such.