Kill Me

I usually don’t writing anything here unless I’m driven near crazy. So here I am, writing publicly. A post that will be read by dozens, perhaps. Great. I’m throwing my piss into the great ocean of content.

Don’t you hate it when your therapist gives you an assignment for the next session?

I just caught myself saying “kill me” like it was a reflexive thing. I sat still for a moment, not writing, just sitting and waiting and not doing anything and “kill me” just came out of my mouth. How often does that happen and I don’t notice it? Do I walk around saying “kill me” and people see it? Can people hear me saying “kill me”? I’m not just thinking it? I’m mouthing it. I’m turning it into words that can be heard by human ears.

Every time I go to my psychiatrist, he asks me if I have suicidal thoughts and I tell him I don’t. Because I never think it’s time to go or let’s do it. I think about dying in a gruesome, violent way. Death is a thing I secretly hope for yet fear and dread at the same time. And I feel like I’m not alone. I feel like there’s a lot of people who aren’t going to commit suicide but are ready to get the hell off this rock. So if global warming or nuclear war wipe us off the map, so be it as long as the problem is taken out of our hands.

The doctor asks me if I think about self-harm. I don’t know, doc. Do thoughts about dismembering yourself with a chainsaw count? If so, then yeah I guess I have been thinking about self-harm. But a chainsaw is just too unwieldy for the task. You’d have to go legs first and then go for an arm but let’s say you do that and then you lose control of the chainsaw. Then what? That’s only a partial dismemberment! And what if you bleed out your leg stumps before then? What a failure! You need a friend to help you out, or an enemy. Somebody who cares enough to do it.

That’s a lot to drop on anybody, let alone a professional.

Maybe I oughta be locked up for my own good. Or restricted chainsaw access.

 

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Punchdrunk On Politics

I should have thrown in the towel weeks ago but I thought I was a fighter. I thought I could crap lighting and eat thunder. But I ate shit and puked up the hubris of a million political ads. I felt tired and worn down this morning and politics is what did it to me.

It feels as if election season began immediately the day that orange-fuzz-covered turd of a human being swore an oath he didn’t understand on a Bible that should have burned him when he touched it way back in January 2017. The midterm elections began that day and they never stopped until Tuesday night. Months and months of ads upon ads and eventually everything began to blur together until my brain felt concussed.

Steve Kornacki of MSNBC is the lead election stat geek on cable news TV and he works all year for Election Day, with his rolled-up sleeves and his boyish pair of glasses. One can easily imagine him being younger than his 39 years. One can also imagine the amount of fan-fiction that has been written about this earnest, Jimmy Olsen-esque energy-ball/vote wonk. Imagine the Steve Kornacki Rule 34 drawings, all manga’d out like a Japanese comix hero/erotica star with his pet squid/electricity-shooting peep.

Don’t laugh. Somewhere on election night there was somebody touching themselves watching MSNBC waiting for Kornacki to return with vote tally updates, muttering and cursing whenever Brian Williams, Chris Matthews or god forbid Rachel Maddow was on the screen instead. Shut up you goons! Let Li’l Stevie tell us how the Senate races are going county-by-county. How many more ballots are coming in from how many more precincts, Mr. Pornacki?

Ari Melber? Get this man and his shoehorned hip-hop lyric references off the screen, they call out in despair. Rank your favorite Steve/Stevie’s, they type on Twitter. Here’s mine: Kornacki, Wonder, Nicks, Ray Vaughan, Sax, Perry, Martin, in that order. It’s never enough, never enough.

Kornacki is not the kind of person who gets punchdrunk on election night. He has taken body blows in preparation for this. He has crunched and stared at more numbers than most non-mathematicians. Election night is his night. He does not get lost in a daze unlike most laymen. Try doing that job sober.

Is Steve Kornacki an Adderall fiend? How else do you explain his monomaniacal focus on that night of all nights? It’s nothing to show up for a segment and go over poll numbers in the weeks ahead of the election but a whole night where you have to be Johnny-on-the-spot? Does his Adderall usage become more pronounced as he approaches November year after year? Does he require detox immediately after Election day? Is that how he does it?  It must be difficult doing your job knowing that people you will never meet are frothing over you and drawing strange but sexy illustrations of you and posting them on DeviantArt.

Fame is difficult to cope with. Thankfully you’ll never have to deal with it.

Some More “Bohemian Rhapsody” Errors

This weekend I went to see the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I enjoyed it immensely and even teared up during a few moments. However, the movie tries to condense fifteen years worth of events into a two-hour-plus movie and because of that the timeline gets mangled. I’ll give you some examples.

  • Freddie Mercury was diagnosed with the HIV virus in 1987. He took a standard blood test. He did not use an app on his iPhone.
  • Freddie also did not contract the HIV virus from playing Pokemon Go.
  • Some people know about the confrontation between Freddie and Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols but fewer people know about the knife between bassist John Deacon and Vanilla Ice.
  • Guitarist Brian May was an astronomer, not an astrologist. This wipes out the entire ‘Brian May Psychic & Lottery Number Hotline’ subplot.
  • Drummer Roger Taylor did have a psychic hotline, but it was for a brief time and came years after Mercury’s death.
  • Contrary to the film, Queen did not lose rights to the words “mama mia” in a 1976 arm-wrestling match between Roger Taylor and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA.
  • Freddie’s mustache was grown not in a government laboratory, but on his own upper lip.
  • The following lyrics were not used in the band’s 1982 hit “Body Language”: “You make me think of lighting in skies”, “Your offbeat dance makes me fantasize” and “Your ass is a spaceship I want to ride”.
  • Contrary to the film, when the band walks off stage after their famous Live Aid performance, Lady Gaga does not come up to them and say “You just gave me a great idea.”
  • In real life, Freddie’s corpse was cremated. In the movie, his living body is frozen in carbonite by Vanilla Ice.

It’s Just Not Your Moment

Life is filled with near-misses and the occasional ripoff moment. I’ve done my best to put those moments behind me but sometimes I’m reminded of them. It happened again Thursday night at the Tidball’s show. Someone reminded me of a major ripoff in my life. A time I won, then lost a rap/r&b/soul talent search in Memphis. The winner of the contest was to receive a recording deal with Sony Music, which probably meant recording time instead of an actual contract to release music.

This happened in 2005. And I won the contest. They announced me the winner, right there on stage in the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street. And then about a week later, I was informed that there had been a mixup on the vote tally and I had actually not won. The true victors were a four-piece r&b group who weren’t even in the contest but performed on the show anyway. I knew it was a ripoff and there was nothing I could do to change it. The organizers never tried to make any restitution to me for my loss. The underhanded nature of it gnawed at me for years afterward.

A year later I returned to that venue to perform a full set opening up for Black Francis on his solo tour. The staff remembered me and how upset people at that talent contest were about me winning. They thought it was funny how a guy drove all the way from Kentucky and won the whole thing over an entire city of Memphis hopefuls. But it was a ripoff.

Then there are the near-misses, the moments that a cool thing nearly happened. Like the time I nearly wrote a song with Black Francis. Let me explain.

“Threshold Apprehension” is a song from his 2007 album “Bluefinger”, a concept album about Dutch singer/painter Herman Brood (1946-2001). Charles invited me to submit some lyrics for the “Threshold” instrumental track but the caveat was that they had to relate to Herman Brood somehow. I did a little research on the guy and wrote a few sets of lyrics that weren’t used, which I don’t blame Charles for because I wouldn’t have used them either. To be fair, the subject of Herman Brood was not my fixation. It was his idea and his concept and what ended up on the album was far superior to anything I came up with.

My lyrics were mostly about Herman taking speed in the 60’s and playing with a band on US military bases. Interesting subject but lousy execution on my part. “Threshold Apprehension” was listed as one of Rolling Stone’s top 100 songs of 2007. Missed the boat on that one. A few extra dollars in my pocket, just a few.

Another near-miss was one of my songs nearly being released by another artist. Shooter Jennings produced one of my songs for singer Julie Roberts. That was over three years ago. I have a copy of it for my own listening but I’m pretty sure the entire project has been mothballed. A few extra dollars in my pocket, just a few. Julie has a new book out, “Beauty In The Breakdown”. I follow her on Instagram and she seems to be well and happy.

Every now and then, someone will bring up that I was on a Comedy Central game show, “Beat The Geeks”. I did ten episodes back in 2002 for their second and final season. Another lost opportunity, even though I actually got to do the show. They had me penciled in for fifteen episodes. I blew it. A few extra dollars in my pocket, just a few. Maybe the entire two years I lived in Los Angeles was a lost opportunity. I was surrounded by so many talented people who were working and making things happened but I was not in the right mind to do anything about it. Too mentally fried to catch the train. Full blown manic behavior, folks. I always thought I was on the verge of a breakthrough.

Was “Beat The Geeks” my moment? I’d hate to think so. I was twenty-four years old. I tried to build on it but I couldn’t. I joined an improv class at a comedy club but flamed out after eight weeks. I started a band that played about five gigs to mostly empty venues (some of these were the Los Angeles pay-to-play type of gigs, another outright RIPOFF scheme concocted by music business scumbags).

The pay-to-play thing is like this. They put you down for a date at a club, let’s say the Dragonfly club on the 21st. They’ll give you a block of tickets and tell you to bring them a certain amount of money on the day of the show. For us, it was $250. They didn’t care how we did it. Whether we sold 50 tickets for $5 or 25 for $10 or just showed up with $250 of our money and the same block of tickets they gave us to start with, it didn’t matter. That’s how you get on stage with pay-to-play. You have to hustle for weeks and weeks to get anyone to buy a ticket, even if they couldn’t actually come to the gig. Your name will be on the list of advertisements for the week of shows in the newspaper but unless you’ve got that money you don’t play. Ripoff. No wonder house shows became so prevalent. This shit has been going on for decades, going all the way back to the 80’s. Jane’s Addiction famously played house parties and built a following in Southern California while avoiding what was then a new pay-to-play scene.

The more I think about it, the more old moments like these come up and it makes me sad. I want to make this clear: the deals with FB and Shooter or Beat The Geeks were not ripoffs. They were just bad luck. Not my moment. Such is life. You weren’t meant to have that placement. You weren’t meant to have her for your girlfriend. That a&r guy wasn’t meant to show up in time for your set in Manhattan in 2007 (see? It’s all coming back to me and I HATE IT). You are where you’re meant to be and that sucks if you’re in a shitty place. You’d still be relatively broke. Still need help with things. Still not have what you need. Still not have that girl. Still not have all those songs recorded.

I hope nothing good happens to me again because I’m certain it will get fucked up somehow, either by me or by extenuating circumstances. Angels avoid me.

 

My Lousy Month

Hello. I’m using a Android tablet for this post and will be doing so until things improve. My laptop’s processor don’t work right. A few weeks ago it stopped working altogether. My local guy got it working but now the video won’t come out. The screen works but there is no video getting to it. No graphics card and everything runs off the processor. Can’t hook up to a TV to get video neither. It just died like that.

I have a car that severely needs maintenance. New ball joints and brakes, plus a wheel alignment and a new tire. You know how many Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency? It me.

I pulled a muscle in my leg a few weeks ago while going to the pool at the health park. I couldn’t work out because I needed to rest and elevate the leg. I actually missed working out. I only went back yesterday because it finally felt like it was up to the challenge. As I get older, I heal slower.

I need an dentist appointment NOW. One of my teeth is showing gum erosion and it hurts to drink cold liquid. Only started hurting this weekend so maybe there is still hope for my mouth.

Do you know how hard it is to find a dentist who will accept Medicaid and Medicare? Eyes and teeth are not covered for the most part. Why would they be? It’s not like they’re part of the human body or something.

All of this adds up to MONEY, which I do not have. You see why this is a problem. I can’t work and I have to depend on the monthly disability check I get which covers living expenses (barely).If I had some money I don’t know what I’d do with myself. I might get an eye exam and a new pair of glasses. I might buy a new pair of shoes or a full tank of gas.

I just remembered that my electric bill is due in a week. I’m rooting for a meteor to hit me straight in the head.

Some People Should Go To Hell

Some things I have heard discussed in regard to the case of Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court nominee and accused attempted rapist:

  • Bill Clinton
  • Ted Kennedy
  • The Duke Lacrosse team scandal

The people who bring these subjects up seems to run the gamut from “what about those guys – weren’t they guilty” to “Kavanaugh’s not guilty because women lie sometimes”. And I know I don’t have the energy to yell at these people so I can’t imagine what it’s like being a woman.

A lot of women have been attacked and say as much yet nobody ever takes credit for those attacks. I don’t have any reason to disbelieve women any more. Once upon a time, I wanted to believe that rapes and sexual assaults didn’t happen. I wanted to rationalize why someone would make up an accusation. What is there to gain? And eventually I realized there’s nothing to gain. There’s no book deal or movie deal or TV series or whatever. You can’t spin being a victim of sex crimes into an entertainment career.

I was in denial. Because they do happen. Sex crimes happen all the time. Rape, battery, molestation. I was molested as a kid and I didn’t tell anyone until last year. How could I not understand why someone would not come out for so long after an attack?

So in the abstract, I understood there were people who reflexively didn’t believe women accusers of rape but it took this week for that to come into focus. A guy I’ve known since high school kept pushing the Duke Lacrosse comparison to me, where a group of athletes were falsely accused of rape by a woman who stripped at a party they threw.

He was equating the Kavanaugh case with the Duke Lacrosse incident. Talked of ruined lives. What can be worse that that? Lives ruined by false accusations.

I would have asked him to name one of the Duke guys but we were on Twitter so I blocked him.

All I know is if the guy who molested me had the chance to be an elected official or Supreme Court justice, I might have a grudge myself and might want to do something about it. I don’t know know what relevance any of this other stuff has to do with this particular case. I also don’t know what urban crime in Chicago has to do with preventing school shootings. I don’t know how to argue with people who are intent on diversion after diversion.

It’s not my job to argue with them. They’ll have to come to a realization sooner or later. It took me some time but I came around. And if they can’t or refuse to, they can go to hell.

Water Foul

Three days a week, I go to the Healthpark to do water exercises. I go to the therapy pool and alternate days between upper and lower body exercises. It’s a routine I’ve had since May and it has made me healthier and happier.

My left front tire went dead flat Sunday night after a trip to the store. My mom texted me in the early morning to tell me it was flat as she left for work. It was so flat I couldn’t drive anywhere. The wires were sticking out of from the tire rubber. I needed a new tire and it would cost me about $110.

I tried to get a wheel alignment but I couldn’t. The ball joints on my car were worn out. Even if my car were to get an alignment it would quickly fall back out and put me in a bad spot with worn out tires. I have a 1999 Town Car and for all I know they have never been replaced.

I went to a shop in Owensboro and was informed that ball joint replacement with parts and labor would cost over $600, which is pretty steep but even a fair price for such a job is going to be pricey.

The whole week had been lost. The car is not in great shape. I still have things I need to do, like working out. I was afraid to go, but I made a difficult decision. I have to go to work out. I have to go to the store. I have to go to the bank sometimes and make errands. I will use the car for those things even though the front end suspension is in bad shape. No trips for pleasure. No Bowling Green, Louisville, or Nashville. It’s a drag but it’s for the best. I’d hate to blow a tire on the freeway at 70 mph.

I woke up today with a great optimism which I haven’t felt in a long time. I had made my decision and I could live with it. I also wanted to go to the Healthpark again so I made that choice. I felt great, even optimistic.

My optimism was rewarded when I hit that pool. It’s a great place to go, especially on the weekends when fewer people are around. My typical routine is M-W-F but I decided not to wait.

Two other people were working out in the therapy pool, but after a few minutes I was the only one. And I did my doggie paddle around the deeper end in happy solitude. I felt like myself again.

After the workout, I went to Wal-Mart. Is it too much to ask that people not abuse the self-scan? If you’ve got a full shopping cart, don’t use the self-scan. Go to a proper register. Yes, I know it’s 6pm on a Saturday. You’re not saving any time in this section.

Untitled Concerto for Essayist & Orchestra (Libretto)

(Libretto to) Untitled Concerto for Essayist and Orchestra 
An Incomplete Composition by Mike Farmer*

(introductory fanfare with clarinet)

Hello there. I’d like to talk to you about the 1999 film Fight Club, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter. As you may know, Fight Club is based on a novel by writer Chuck Palahniuk.

(soft strings)

As you may also know, the story of Fight Club concerns a man played by Edward Norton who struggles with the humdrum realities of his sales job and materialistic lifestyle while struggling to conquer a nagging case of insomnia. From there, the story gets ludicrous.

In Fight Club, Brad Pitt’s character Tyler Durden attempts to sum up the American condition approximately:

(solemn march)

We’ve been raised to believe that one day we’ll all be millionaires, movie stars, and rock gods. But we won’t. And we’re not. And as we slowly learn that, we struggle to accept it and come to terms with the direction our life is going in . Fortunately while this 1999 movie-film gave voice to that feeling of despair, the technological industry at great expense had come up with a solution to mollify the masses. (timpani roll)

They called it. . . the World Wide Web. They also called it the Information Superhighway. Either way, the Internet allowed us to transmit our individual auras across the vast online continent such as it was at the turn of the millennium. Soon anybody could make their own. . . (trumpet flourish) homepage.

(insert dreamy harp music, with dreamy grand piano following and AOL startup sound samples)

Home-page. Think about those two words put together. Home. Page. Our own personal home. . . (voice pitch begins to modulate downward until it sounds muddled) page where we could share our thoughts, pictures, current developments, past accomplishments, our hopes, aspirations, dreams and even our job resumes.

(analog synthesizer bleeps and hums)

(back to regular voice pitch/clarity) With Internet expanding around the world and technology further making it easily accessible, faster and even portable, each one of us in our own micro-minute way are now able to become stars. Has it made our lives more convenient? Certainly. Have these developments made us happier? I think you know the answer to that one.

(digital synthesizer squiggles and frantic simulated 808-style bass patterns)

Of course! Think about the people who are famous right now. White rappers with jail tattoos. Conspiracy theorists, professional racists and race-baiters, Would-be political pundits and would-be social activists. Failed comedians and pretend models. Many of you are probably thinking to yourselves “Why are they famous? What do they have that I don’t have? They don’t even have any actual talent!” And you very well may have a point. But if it’s any comfort, and it’s a cold comfort, these people are mostly famous on the Internet. And Internet fame as anyone who has been through it can attest, is the cruelest fame of all.

(sad trombones)
(percussion mutters)

But the architects of the Internet in the 1990’s had it wrong. It was not nor is it now an information superhighway. Rather it is a Digital Atmosphere. And as Earth pollutes the actual atmosphere with discarded spacecraft, broken satellites and other assorted NASA flotsam. . . so too is our Digital Atmosphere polluted.

(percussion grows louder)
And anybody who seen Fight Club enough times, and anyone who’s ever had to futz and fuss over cellphones, smart phones, data plans, data packages and the rest will tell you. . . to quote the words of Tyler Durden once more, the things you own can end up owning you.

(percussion rises to a crescendo, then halts suddenly)

Social media can drive you crazy.

(ugly dissonant chords)

I am Jack’s blue checkmark.

(END)

*NOTE TO SELF: find someone to compose arrange the musical portions of the concerto

A lost song

Waterlogged

August 3, 2018

 

The path that led me here has blown away

Empty slate tomorrow, sand-swept yesterdays

Some things I recall, some things I ignore

Try to forget things that hurt me more

I remember a coastline, wet steps in sand

Walking through valleys of a peaceful land

Sinking in the swamps, climbing from the bog

Clothes soaked, tattered and waterlogged

No use in trying to go back now

Retrace my steps, I don’t know how

Hot tears run down my cheeks

Every day feels like a thousand weeks

I remember standing on a overcast beach

The other side, dry, fell out of reach

Floating sightless, I cut through the fog

I laid there lifeless and waterlogged

 

You Are Unhappy

To hell with it. Just say it. You are unhappy.

You try to put up a good front for everyone to see. It used to be difficult even long before the days of social media. When you were a young’un and the beeper was still a thing. That’s when you said to yourself, “not going to let myself be tied down like that”. A beeper or a cellular phone phone the size of a brick. These things did not seem like freedom back then. They seemed. . . douche-y?

Beepers faded away and new cellular phones were made smaller, cheaper, and easier to carry around. Suddenly it made good sense to have a cellular phone. They would be good to have in an emergency, which is the kind of thing your mother might say. What if your car stalled on the highway, for example? Take the cellular phone with you just in case and be careful.

Technology made it where the internet could be on our cellular phones. Suddenly you were a big deal. Before then, you had to use the internet at a computer. You couldn’t take the internet with you wherever you went. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves but did he have the Internet on his phone? He didn’t even have a phone, the big prissy-pants.

In less than ten years, America went from largely without these things to incorporating them in daily life. We were taking pictures of our food and using our phones while driving. They stopped being cellular, became cellphones, then became phones, and now may not even be phones depending on what gadget is in use.

And while this may sound like the rant of a curmudgeon or a Luddite, let me bring you back to the beginning where I said: you are unhappy.

You? Yes yes yes you yes yes yes you and you might even be MISERABLE. The rapid development of technology in your daily life has not made you feel better.

You are now able to connect with so many people all over the world. You can check in at a concert you’re at, take a picture from the event, upload it to your IG account with the location pinpointed. You’ve staked your territory. You were there. You can use your phone’s camera to video-record portions of the concert. You can upload that video later to your IG stories or your FB account or whatever social media you prefer. People will like your photo, they will heart it. You will be rewarded for your photo and your check-in and your video, especially if the video shows something out-of-the-ordinary like one of the performers having a meltdown.

Every heart, every like, every notification a short and sharp jolt of excitement to your overstimulated brain. You have been acknowledged, if momentarily. It is nice but fleeting. You are still unhappy.

Something is gnawing at you. All of this has been made for you. This has been sold given to you and you are still not happy. You put up a good front because you see everyone else on your social media and how happy they seem to be. They are going to concerts and the zoo and playing with their pets and going to the park and doing the things people have always done. People will do these things thousands of years from now too, but will they be any happier? That cannot be known.

If we were being honest with the rest of the world we engage with and ourselves, our IG photos would largely be unfiltered and un-retouched and they would be of us slumped on a couch tired. We wouldn’t take multiple pictures of ourselves in the same spot with the same pose just to make sure the lighting was right. We wouldn’t use self-timers to take posed pictures. The pictures we post of our food would be of an entire carton of ice cream or a bag of potato chips or a bologna sandwich and it would look as drab as life typically is.

We wouldn’t just check in at concerts, sporting events and movies but at the quick care and the pharmacy and the grocery store and the funeral home and all the places we go between our birth and our death. If we could be upfront about ourselves, we would show the warts-and-all of our lives.

Maybe not literally the warts.

We would admit how unhappy we are and how tired we are of trying to keep up that appearance. Because if we are actually living that happy, blessed life that we show in our social media then we’re probably making a lot of people including our friends bitterly jealous.

But if we’re not (and let’s face it, most of us aren’t) then we are lying to ourselves and everyone else and we need to stop it.

That really would be a breakthrough, wouldn’t it?