Life

The Cronenberg Horror of Loving a Human Completely

It’s been a minute since I’ve written. I’m rusty as fuck, and I’ve been through so much shit that I honestly don’t know what my voice is anymore. Or what I want to write. Or how I want to be seen. Or how commas work. Real talk. I can’t even write a good email.

But I guess you’re reading this shit, so who gives a fuck?

I’m not editing this by the way.

So long story short, I loved a person. Let’s call her “Tina” –that’s always my first go-to girl name. We were friends, then we were like… a package deal pretty instantly. In a way I don’t think either of us were prepared for. When I look back… it’s like mythical shit, and I can’t believe it happened. This is beyond that “other half” shit. This was meeting someone that grew out of me, like one of them Cronenberg movies. Like that “atom-penetrating,” “molecule-fusing” shit.

Tina was the other thing in the teleportation machine I got fused with. This was like a cosmic rom-com “When Time Meets Space” or some shit… basically that other thing in the universe that makes you go “how the fuck did I even make sense before you got here?” I think the best fandom thing I could think of is the concept of “the drift” in Pacific Rim. I love that movie because it’s a big dumb robot movie that totally nails what it means to love someone. You get in their head, in their memories, feel their pain… and you just fuckin’ walk with them. And you witness them. Just that they are here. And you do your best to just pay attention to them.

I met Tina, and honestly, Day ONE I was like… “here is a pretty girl like many pretty girls I will meet in life. But this is one that I am attracted to. I am attracted to this pretty girl and for some reason, it is enough for me to just share comics with this person and watch them eat handfuls of almonds. I just want THIS person to be okay, and I want to be here for them.”

And that folks, is love that is unconditional. Love that is free. Love that is rare. Love that makes a child (which is what I was when I met Tina) into a real nigga.

Now we dated for two years and met each others’ deep darkies, and eventually that complicated shit to the point where we became unstable and dumb… looking for ways out while we were looking for ways in… just like… real dumb shit. And we broke up 3 times. She will say 2. I will say 3. It’s a really fun disagreement.

The last 2 times were after we lived together and boy-oh-fuckin’ boy, was it a kick in the ovaries. I was messy and ugly and horrible and hard. Because here was a person who started off as a pretty girl I wanted to hang with. I just wanted to be her guy and we both mutated into each others’ everything. It’s that weird thing that happened when you start to love a person from every angle of their identity. This woman was my girlfriend, wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, aunt, best friend, enemy, bully, abuelo, little brother, tio, teacher, fan club, fandom, my God, my cathedral… you get it?

That’s some Silver Surfer shit. But we had to walk away from it as it was. She called it and I left. I’ve been sleeping on mostly “friends” couches AKA mostly my parents (to my privileged AF shame).

But in that time that we got out of each other’s way, I got to see the universe open back up to the both of us the way it did when we met. You forget shit when you cling to someone’s face for a few years. There’s like other shit, other people, other opportunities that you’ve EMPOWERED each other to have. 

The Cronenberg Monster has split, but I still catch Tina out there in the world, with pieces of me she got in the surgery. We were split in half with a long slow saw. That’s the funny horror of loving a person. You lose pieces of yourself and start to notice the parts of you that come from other people.

I shit you not, I brush my teeth every night SOME OF THE TIME because that’s a thing I NEVER did before I met her. It’s like brushing my teeth with someone else’s hands.– I’m like “why the fuck am I doing this? I belong to the dirt.” Or “why the fuck do I talk about astrology with people? What even is ‘Mercury in Retrograde?’”

Honestly, I just stay learning from these people who loved me. I am very much a man made of metal, but fuck if this person didn’t get me to believe in something out there that is bigger than me, that I won’t understand as easy as I would the natural laws that bind the world together. Maybe there are forces in the universe with more answers and questions than my beloved internet. My machines. My little “Shalla-Bals.”*

I still love Tina as much as I did when we were together. But it’s different. Easier now. Have you seen the end of Hancock? It’s like that. That is where we learned to love. That’s where we got our fuck ups out. Thank god we met to feel this rare and real thing. Thank god we were together. Thank god we broke up. Thank god we are still friends. Thank god you are here.

I could end this shit real dignified with a quote about how “there should be stars for great wars like ours” or some shit about how “we taught each other to be better, and to love harder,” but I’m tired and  I don’t know which shitty pop culture reference I want to make: Gwen Stefani or Riverdale? Riverdale.

I know we broke up, but you still gotta catch up.

FIN

PS – Dear Reader, I’m a musical ho so here’s some songs.

 

Frank Ocean – Moon River, Wise Man

Gwen Stefani – Cool, Simple Kind of Life

Twin Shadow – When The Movie’s Over

*A Shalla-Bal is a word I’ve used ONLY to myself until now for a person or object that I love. Like my phone or a loved one or a doughnut.

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Arts & Entertainment, Life

White Ferrari: Impressions

I’m not one to straight up cry ambiguous tears on the subway.

I’m not really one to cry, period.  I am an endless marching steel cage of spiders, wires and code… but goddamn it…

Frank Ocean’s White Ferrari is one of those perfect beautiful sad things. Like the moment you wake up from a really good dream, the recollection of something that never happened, and the hour after a perfect day when you realize you cannot go back.

The moment you recall that this shit right here is not forever, not guaranteed, not promised. And you’ll never really know how much you spent, how much you have left, or how many corners of who you are that have gone unexplored.

So the best thing you can do is be here and feel the fistfuls of pain and joy that come with the stampede of weeks.

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Arts & Entertainment

So here’s the thing. Pearl and the Beard has been one of my favorite bands since the ancient precocious days of my sophomore year of college. At the time I was getting out of a brief relationship, mourning my “mayfly girlfriends,” and listening to alot of Phantom of the Opera. Complete with the mask and cape. There may have been some light manly crying involved. There are videos of it somewhere in the rabbit hole of my Facebook videos. During that haze of melancholy, I saw this video. First I thought, “Mein gott! Will Smith is a secret musical genius.” Then I thought, “I’m a fool for using ‘Will Smith’ and ‘genius’ in the same sentence. Then finally I realized that I should do more research on the actual rag-tag bespectacled gang of musicians who arranged it all.

These were those ancient days before Spotify, so I took a leap of faith and bought God Bless Your Weary Soul, Amanda Richardson on iTunes. On that winter afternoon in 2010, I was hooked. Fo. Lyfe. I followed them on every social media outlet possible, and then I made many of my friends listen to them (with me watching them listen). Encouraging people to listen to Pearl and the Beard is like trying to get people into The Wire. Maybe my fanboy-ish zeal is turning you off, but once you experience it for yourself, you will know why I’ve become a zealous bible-beating werewolf for this band (I wanted to think of a very specific monster).  In a nutshell, these musicians are lyrical travelers who explore emotional territory with infinite heights of joy and nostalgia and infinitesimal depths of yearning and sorrow. Give them several listens. Today, October 30th, my favorite song of theirs…it’s a toss up between Good Dog, Dumb Lovers, and Prodigal Daughter… I’m mad indecisive yo. But give em’ all a listen and note how each song kind of takes over the sounds around you. Every song is the sound of finding something. Or losing something.

Since 2010 I’ve bought several more albums and I’ve seen them live 3 times. I even struck up some rapport with the band via email, so I figured, why not do a brief interview to learn about their creative process and the well of experiences that they pull from?

Why are you so god damn accessible? I know many people have had the experience of contacting an artist they admire only to get a computerized response: “Thank for your email…” and whatnot. Why is it important for you guys to keep your fans close? Also, how do you do it?

Emily Hope Price: We are musicians but we’re also music lovers.  If we wrote to a band we loved, we’d love a personal response.  How awesome would that be?  It’s just what we’d want for ourselves as music lovers.  I guess it’s that simple. We’re interested in forming relationships with our fans that are long lasting and meaningful.

Jeremy Styles:  It’s important that if someone has cared about your music enough to overcome any self-conscious feelings that we are usually mired in and reach out to a band, then I think it warrants a nice response! Things like that can go a long way.

Jocelyn Mackenzie: We care about our fans as people and not just as numbers or “likes” on Facebook. It’s really important to us to communicate to those fans that we couldn’t do what we do without their support, quite literally.

I’m an aspiring novelist who knows nothing about music (or proper novels for that matter) but I find that the most difficult part of any artistic endeavor is getting up off my ass and going to work on my work. What thoughts or motivations get you to slog through apprehension and begin working on your art?

Emily: This is an awesome question.  We each have this problem in different ways and about different elements of our craft.  Honestly? Sometimes there isn’t a magic answer to get you moving.  Sometimes you just. aren’t. motivated.  And there isn’t anything that will remove you from your slog, and it’s important to be kind to yourself in these moments.  Show yourself love and understanding rather than guilt, obligation, or judgement.  How motivating is it to beat yourself up? BUT sometimes it’s as easy as sitting down with an instrument or a beautifully clean piece of paper or a white screen.  Just go, just play, just write.  Not thoughts or expectations – free improvise/free write.  Do it for 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes.  Then stop, get up, eat a sandwich, call your BFF or your mom, listen to your favorite band or go searching for new or unusual music or information.  Keep focused (don’t turn on Netflix – it’s always my downfall) with an open and nonjudgmental mind. Be kind to yourself at all times.  I think that’s the basic secret to succeeding in an art. Be kind, stay open.

Jeremy: Part of it is just that it has to come out of you. That being said, those desires can get muddled with laziness, a tasty beverage, or a call from a dear friend. The problem is those things are all extremely fun, and it’s important not to beat yourself up over it. The process of creation is also extremely fun, but can be riddled with frustrations and at times not a barrel full of laughs. But when you actually get it down and see your vision beginning to take shape, that can be a drug as well. Working with other people has gotten me to be less lazy and push myself to work a little further than I normally would because those people are depending on me to do my share. When solo, I tend to work either at a much more slow pace, or incredibly rapid pace because it doesn’t get checked by anyone else. Figure out a system that works the best for you and trick your mind and body into doing what you want it to do!

Jocelyn: I would add that just making a schedule for yourself is hard enough, let alone sticking to it, let alone with other people! But when I’m working solo, it helps me to reward myself for productive behavior… I’ll tell myself that if I get done what I wanted to get done that day, THEN I can have a twenty minute YouTube binge, but not before. It doesn’t always work, but it’s funny how the tactics we use on small children often translate as perfectly viable motivation to us as adults!

Before I tell you my favorite song (and the minutiae involved in its selection), what song would you consider your favorite? Most difficult to write? The one you are most proud of? I understand how this could be comparable to picking which child is your favorite, so in lieu answering this question, you can explain why this question is impossible.

Emily: We are currently in the post-production phase of our newest album. We are so excited about sharing it already. There is a song we’re working on in the mix that has avoided us at every turn.  We have been chasing after it for months and months.  Normally we would probably abandoned it, but we pushed and pushed it because we felt like it had a specific potential – so we needed to see it through.  It has been a struggle, but I think it has finally opened up for us.  At the moment, picking favorites is like picking a favorite child, but I would probably argue that the songs which were completely collaborative between the three of us are some of the strongest song in our repertoire – and often the most rewarding to perform.

Jeremy: I agree with Emily about this particular process. I have been jonesing to hear our new stuff fully recorded and fleshed out. Right now they all seem like a very awesome group of friends waiting inside of a secret shack with tons of food, booze, and back rubs for me to experience. I want to be in there so badly.

Jocelyn: Yeah, the process of writing this new album has been incredibly challenging, but coming out the other side with a batch of songs that we all love has proven to be incredibly rewarding as well as cathartic. But I’d say if I had to chose one song from our past catalog that was my favorite to write, I’d go with “The Lament of Coronado Brown.” We were at a writing retreat at a friend’s lake house, and Jeremy had this amazing guitar part and melody prepared. Emily heard it and out of nowhere just said, “Can we sing… ‘They don’t know that I love you?'” And it just fit so perfectly with her voice. We spent the rest of the day adding the bell parts and drums and cello, and then worked on the verse lyrics while swimming in the lake, shouting words at each other between backstrokes and flips. It was pretty magical, and that song remains one of my favorites to perform as well.

For Pearl and the Beard, what does a boring day consist of?

Emily: An 8-12 hour drive.

Jeremy: ditto.

Within the confines of a six word story, Tell me about the experience of writing and recording your upcoming album.

Jocelyn: Try. Fail. Try. Fail. Try. Succeed.

***

With that short literary masterpiece concludes our interview. Special thanks goes to Pearl and the Beard for taking the time to answer my questions and Rookerville for cross-posting my article. It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling, the feeling you know that I’ll be back — when the day is new. And I’ll have more Swimfan-esque email interviews for you. And you’ll have things you want to talk about.

I will too. If you heeded any of my advice you’ll keep your eyes and ears peeled for Pearl and the Beard when they come to a town near you. And be sure keep their next full length album on your radar! That’s a thing to be expected sometime in 2014, so treat it like Doctor Who: familiarize yourself with the back catalogue before you jump into the most recent seasons. The new stuff will be good, but be a good fan and earn the new material will ya? Old stuff just makes new stuff better, am I right ladies?

Follow @PEARLntheBEARD to get social and whatnot.

Voices Grown, Swallow the Room: A [digital] Interview with Pearl and the Beard

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