More Thoughts On Get in the Van by Henry Rollins

I am watching Sons of Anarchy tonight and I just came across the episode where musician and actor Henry Rollins enters playing a white supremacist.  One of my favorite reads of recent years is Rollins’s Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag.  Now many of you might assume that I love this book because it documents touring and music, because I am a touring musician.  However, trust me, one of the last things I would want to read while being in a van for eight hours is a book on touring in a van.  There is a darkly comic, vulgar insanity to the prose.  It was written as diary entries, that at least seem to be written without publishing in mind.  Many of the things said in the book are the kinds of things people think, but would never admit to the outside world.  Because of this there is also a strange truth to the book, even if it is not an enlightening one.  In the Leonard Cohen song Going Home, Cohen sings what is a great description of the endgame of art :

I want to write a love song
An anthem of forgiving
A manual for living with defeat

At the time I was reading Rollins’s book I was going through a slightly dark period.  I loved Rollins’s ability to keep moving forward even in the face of constant defeats.  Rollins goes on horribly crushing tours, only to spend his time between them living in a shed with no AC, with only spiders as his company.  Yet despite this he still keeps going further and further out into the wilderness of the self, writing and self-realizing.  It’s like a self help book written by a complete masochist.  I don’t know if the book is inspiring or a darkly absurd comedy, but that its true charm, the straddling of seemingly disparate genres.

Reading and Travel

Whenever I travel, especially when there is a lot of actual travel time involved, I try to set the goal of reading a book or two in that time.  I try to not let the time being stuck in vans, airports, or trains go to waste.  On this trip I brought Frankenstein and Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams.  As well as being beneficial from any kind of learning standpoint, it helps the time go faster.  A ten hour van ride feels half as long.  It is also good for relaxing.  Forgetting yourself for part of the time helps you be less stressed when you miss that layover, there is a traffic jam, etc.  Trust me, I can definitely use all the help I can get in that department!  I almost had a meltdown today trying to get to the van on time as there was an accident on the highway this morning!

One other thing I find is that if you combine a trip with a couple good books it helps to make the trip itself more meaningful and interesting.  Scenes from a book fuse with the new places you are seeing in your imagination, and the world expands in front of you. 

On Tour and Other Random Thoughts

Heading out on the road today.  Posting has a slow due to constant travel.  I brought my computer with me this time.  We will be up in Tulsa tonight at Fassler Hall if any of you live in that area. 

I mentioned I have been rewatching Breaking Bad.  It’s unbelievable how good it is.  Even knowing the outcome, the writing is good enough that it keeps you pulled into the narrative completely.  

I played a festival yesterday.  The people were nice to us and the festival was fun.  I had to laugh though.  There were several flags in the crowd with firearms on them that said, “Come and take it.”  Do these people not know that if the government really wanted to do away with them at this point they could just send a smart bomb through their window?  They could just fly a drone overhead and reduce them to dust with the push of a button.  In some ways firearms are as outdated as swords.  You might as well have a knight on your flag.  Sure, you could kill some people, but probably only your fellow citizens and a couple unlucky pawns. 

That’s all for now.  In the future when all’s well…

On Tour This Week

Tonight I’ll be in Lubbock with Shinyribs.  We play Amarillo tomorrow night and Wichita Falls on Friday.  Saturday and Sunday we’ll be at Old Settlers Festival right outside of Austin.  If you want the full details go here.  That will take you to the Shinyribs show page.

Our new album Okra Candy is coming out this week.  We should have physical copies this weekend and it is available online on the 21st.

Night of a Thousand Tuesdays – Couch By Couchwest

Night of a Thousand Tuesdays

I just got back from Florida at around 5am this morning from tour.  In the meanwhile here is a clip of myself performing a song called Night of a Thousand Tuesdays for Couch By Couchwest in a Florida hotel room.  Shot by Mr. Kevin Russell.  Just having some fun kids…

Night of a Thousand Tuesdays

No longer scared of ghosts or witches
Of the latter I’ve known a few

No longer scared of death or dying
It comes no matter what you do
No longer root for teenagers
In horror movies on TV
The serial killer in his mask
Is now the only one that speaks to me

I’ve spent too much time in the office
Hearing your senseless voice

It’s the night of a thousand Tuesdays
I could kill without remorse

When we’re young and innocent
We fear what’s hiding under the bed
Now if I met a monster
I’d embrace it and my end

I’ve spent too much time in the office
Hearing your senseless voice

It’s the night of a thousand Tuesdays
I could kill without remorse

Busy work and cold calls
Have stolen my youth
Cubicles and their walls
Have blinded me to the truth
The worst is when you pretend
That we’re a family
It’s turning me into an animal
That wants to see you bleed
That wants to see you bleed…

Spent to much time in the office
Hearing your senseless voice

It’s the night of a thousand Tuesdays
I could kill without remorse

The idea is that when you are an adult, no horror movie is near as scary as working endless days at a meaningless job…

Shinyribs Show Dates This Weekend

Shinyribs Shows

Heading out on the road again today after getting into Austin late last night.  Tonight the Shinyribs band is in Nacogdoches.  Tomorrow we’re in New Braunfels.  The link above is to the Shinyribs Shows page and you can find details there.

Depending on service I hope to keep posting throughout the day from the van.  Until then…

On the Road, The Latest TV

On the road today with Shinyribs.  Posting will be slow.  Started watching the new season of House of Cards last night.  It left me wanting.  I felt like it was a little too melodramatic,  lacking a kind of overreaching theme to give it deeper meaning.  Granted it was one episode, so I will plow on.  Really enjoyed this week’s The Walking Dead.  The show was able to create an unbelievable amount of tension with just character development and story.  Zombies and violence were background for most of the show.  I think an episode like that shows the strength of the show.  I enjoy the episodes of the show that are more typical of its genre, but it is not confined to its genre and hasn’t been for a long time.  The show is strong because it studies human behavior in a society stripped of behavioral norms.  These could be people in war or any survival situation.  The guise of the zombies allows the writers to push the envelope towards things that might be too horrible to ponder if it took place in a real world situation. 

Under Different Deities

Heading back to Austin from a brief tour of Louisiana.   I will catch up on posting when I am home.  I did see a sign in a gas station today that said:  “Jefferson Davis Law – No Alcohol Sold Between 2 and 6am.”  So that happened.  I am glad that the ghosts of the Confederacy are attempting to keep me sober in the wee hours of the morning.  

In Denis Johnson’s book Tree of Smoke, his epic Vietnam novel, one of the characters come to the conclusion that different parts of the world are governed by different deities.  Each area operates under its own unique set of supernatural laws.  When one travels the United States, one can’t help but feel the same way.  Louisiana is not Texas is not Colorado is not wherever.  It isn’t just different cultures and economic forces shaping human behavior, but almost nature itself.  The haunted swamps of Louisiana create a different emotional context than the comforting greenery of the Texas hill country.   “God is alive and magic is afoot.”  The only question is what god and whose magic?  Anyone that claims to know is deluding themselves…

Fun In the South

Day 3 in Louisiana – Headed towards New Orleans.  Due to the weather that has been going down, the countryside looks like West Virginia in winter, without the allure of the mountains.  “Slate grey Victorian skies” hang over leafless trees.  Cigarette butts and plastic bags dot the landscape all too frequently.   I have been reading Dante’s Inferno and listening to Lou Reed’s Sally Can’t Dance.  The soul is a flexible thing.  Mine is mirroring the landscape, slithering to the rhythm of the haunted South.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Oliver Stone’s Nixon.  “Nixon is the darkness reaching out for the darkness.”  Another is when Lou Reed said after making Berlin, an album many deem the most depressing of all time, that he was, “just having fun.”  That is the key and secret code to unlock it all: fun…

February Declarations, New Albums, and a New Coat of Paint On My Blog

One of the reasons that I started this blog, despite obviously loving the written word, was the far less noble pursuit of earning a living.  The music business, tougher than ever, had me casting about for an alternative income stream.  Luckily, I am one of those musicians that earns almost enough to survive on.  Thankfully, enough of you have also tuned in that I am getting close to generating some revenue from my work here.  In order to do this I have to make some structural changes.  When I started this blog I didn’t know that it was much easier to earn through wordpress.org than it is through wordpress.com.  In fact I knew nothing about the technical and structural side of blogging.  I just followed all of the advice columns that said I should write as much as possible if I wanted to get traffic to my site.

So I am currently transferring this blog over to wordpress.org and making some much needed changes to the overall structure as well.  I have no idea how long this will take me.  I am hoping it is a seamless transition, but I have no idea what I’m in for.  The process has already begun.  If you notice any hiccups, that is the reason behind it.

Although there may be changes to the structure and look of this blog, I plan to keep writing in the same style that I always do.  I have an uneasy relationship with advertising.  While I acknowledge its place in the modern world, so much of modern advertising makes me ill.  I am hoping that my own compass, and the fact that I predominately earn my living as a musician, will keep me honest.  No one wants to buy the records of a sellout with nothing to say, or at least I don’t.  (Come to think about it, a lot of people want to buy records by musicians that are sellouts with nothing to say!  Fuck!!!)

I do believe that musicians, artists, writers, should earn a living from their work.  This whole streaming thing troubles me, because it does not yet seem that it pays anyone anything that they can survive on.  But hey, y’all got a blog out of it.  I might not have ever started this blog had the economics of the music business been different.  I really enjoy working on this though.  Even if the economics changed, I don’t think I would stop now, for any reason.  There is a lot more I want to add about how economics, and people’s support for the arts, directly effects the kind of art that we see.  I am late to start packing for tour right now and that will have to wait for a later date.

I just got a copy of the new Shinyribs record that I play bass on.  Mr. Russell even gracefully allowed me to coauthor one song, which I am extremely excited about.  The record, which has long been in the works for sometime, should be out soon.  As soon as I have a finite date, I will make it known.  The Ted Hawkins tribute record I played on, that I have previously mentioned, is supposed to be out later this year.

I also hope to record a solo record this year.  I don’t like New Year’s resolutions.  A February declaration seems fitting somehow, as February seems like no one’s idea of a time to begin anew.  Why can’t it be?  My goal by the end of the year is to have three records in various stages of completion and to have this blog newly formatted and running clean.

Anyway, I’m off to Louisiana for a tour, as soon as I can stuff enough random things in a suitcase to feel like I tried.  Over and out…