Friday, September 13, 2019

Massive Attack Mezzanine:XXI

Last year we had a conversation in the cold winter. It was chilly and one or the other of our beds was warm. Planning music, planning concerts, planning fun.

"What should we listen to now?"

"Massive Attack?"

"Yes, good choice. Massive Attack."

"You know if they ever come to Chicago, I'm getting tickets and you will be my date. I don't care if we are still seeing each other than. I don't care if you've moved to Vegas. I will find you. I will put you over my shoulder. I will take you to a Massive Attack concert."

"I guess I'm going to a Massive Attack concert then."

We laughed and went back to being warm.

A week later Massive Attack announced it was touring. Getting tickets proved to be a challenge, but the challenge did result in Thom Yorke Tuesday, so it was fine. The tickets, destined for a concert in March, end up being for a concert in September. It didn't matter. The night rolled around and we rolled out. Me in all my goth princess finery with a see-through head to tow lace dress with a split that made it far less decent than advertised.

The show was at the Chicago theater, the line was around the block and down two. We were far too safe to care and far too happy to finally be at the show. In one of the most beautiful cities, in one of the most beautiful theaters, we found our seats and we waited, center stage, but in the balcony. Perfect to see everything that was happening and take in every note, every light, with joy.

Massive Attack did not come for joy.

There was an oddness as we waited listening to a washed out music track that had a couple of songs that we recognized the second run through because the washed out tiny refrain of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" was easy to spot on round two. And round three. They had announced the show was starting at some point during the first round of this weird washed out cycle, so it seemed odd to be taking so very long for the band to enter onto the stage.

I could read the nervous anticipation bordering on anger from the crowd.

"It's not hard to lose a Chicago audience and it's not good when you do," I said. This was foreshadowing, I didn't realize it at the time. We had noted the subtlety of the unease.

"Bad house management."

"Could be. But if they don't come out soon they might have a classic Chicago riot on their hands." I watched over the crowd while speaking. A variety of various goths, and teens, and older stoners, and classic rockers, and punks, and freaks, and fucking DJ Scary Lady Sarah walked right by me and she smells like every inch the dark goth goddess Queen of Chicago that she is.

"That's her," I sequel in delight. "Gods she even smells like the Queen of Gothness. Can't you smell it?"

A charming laugh. "And what does a Gothness smell like?"

"Like Patchouli, and clove cigarettes and the insufferable longing of a hundred ages, obviously."


Suddenly, I hear it click over, the crowd music starts the fourth time. There is no Britney Spears this time, but I recognize the tinny lines of Ray of Light from Madonna and suddenly the theater is plunged into darkness.

There is not notice.

There is not an announcement.

The lights just go off. The crowd takes a breath.

There is no opener.

There is only Massive Attack. Or rather, the Velvet Underground "I found a Reason." We fall into the music. We fall into the words. It starts with a missive about the data, and it goes from there. It is, as if watching a dystopian science fiction story written by Massive Attack unfold, to a soundtrack of Massive Attack. Behind them music, the seven piece band, behind all of this rolling hills and technicolor lightness. The light board for this show encompasses the entire theater. The technicolor is documentary images interwoven between powerful flashing, throbbing stage lights.

"I'm glad we brought the sunglasses." A nod. The sunglasses do not come off.

Between the lights, and the story, and the music of Mezzanine which is like a soundtrack of my life given how long I have listened to this very album, it was easy to get complacent as the audience. To think nothing of it.

Until the ticking and drum beat indicate something I didn't expect. I sit up straight. I look to my left.

I recognize Bela Lugosi is Dead within three notes, this is a song I have known for so long that it is like a part of my fabric. It reminds me of spinning in darkness randomly on a rare night at the Neo, out with the other dervish vampires. It reminds me of smokey hotel rooms in the American Northwest. It reminds me of a thousand weird, wild, things. But darkness. How can one miss the darkness?

And it is from this darkness, from the green glowing stage that is now a vampire's delight of deep dark shadows that can't be cut through and the wispy darkness of "I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead" the show takes it's turn. Massive Attack asked a lot of their fans. Their music, our music, has been the soundtrack of so many thrills, beauties, chills, astoundments. It has also been co-opted as impressive music to narrate death, destruction, and hardship. As the group slides from the shaded darkness to the technicolor reality and suddenly, as they put it, "outside the pleasure dome, the wars continue."

For three songs starting here, I kept my eyes tightly closed. I could hear, from the sounds of the audience, that I had made the right choice. I knew were it was going as soon as they hinted it. They warned us, not everyone paid attention. While they asked a lot of us, though, they still gave the music performance we wanted. From here I vacillated between eyes open and closed, lost in the story they were telling. Not the science fiction dystopian reality that I was thinking, no, this was the real life dystopian horror and this music is as much as part of that, a part of this, as I am, we are, we all are.

It was utterly devastating, and utterly perfect.

"Let the past be the past."

The lights came up as suddenly as they went down.

I sat silently stunned, holding hands, watching the theater drain.

"That was phenomenal."


Tuesday, September 10, 2019


"This popped up in my feed again."

It was a screenshot of a concert. I had mentioned this concert some months ago.

We go to shows together.

We are rock stars.

We are rock attendees.

A few months ago the concert had shown up and I mentioned it.

"I checked into that Weedeater concert but they are touring Europe. I don't know what that's all about."


In another country it is the morning or the evening. I am playing a princess trapped by raiders being taken to every city where I am displayed, over and over gain, to the satisfaction of the gathered crowed.

A concert pops up on my phone. The West? I'm in the West? The East? What is this place where I want to be when time and space have lost all meaning to me. I send a picture.

"I got the tickets!"

And so it was that we gathered together to pre-game for a Weedeater concert.

"It's going to be phenomenal!"

"No doubt."

The venue is new to me, Thaila Hall. I've had tickets for shows here before but I always abandon them because it's so far away and the shows start so late. Entering this night I feel a small sense of remorse for this. It's a beautiful space, quiet, old in that Chicago way.

Everyone there is dark metal sledge metal stoner metal crowd. We make eye contact to know, we make eye contact to forget. I seize the arm next to mine to steady myself after the earlier safety meeting. We are ultimately as safe as safe can be.

"I'm getting a drink, do you want anything?"

"Naw, I'm good."

"I'll be back."

I get two club sodas in the back of the bar. I notice the merch booth entrance just behind. Being exceptionally early, we have plenty of time so I go back and announce this merry occurrence.

"Should we go check it out?"

"¿Porque no?"

Back in the back in the back of the back, we enter the merch tent and all the bands are represented. The headliner is UK grunge band popular since I left high school, not touring since I left Korea. Time is a strangeness now. Orange Goblin is the reason this tour is happening. Weedeater is the reason we are hear. The opening band SKULL is just a rock metal big band that ties the whole thing together opening with a classic prog presented with skill that is pleasant regardless of ones familiarity.

We saunter over to the band I notice a bottle of opened Jalapeno Sauce on the merch table. I'm curious about this having just made a batch of jalapeno sauce from the peppers grown at the house.

"And this, what's this?

"Well, that young lady is some sauce. Anyone can try it just screw off the lid and go for it."

I smile a very safe smile.

"And what's in it?"

Perhaps it's the Cheshire expression, but the band member pauses. I can't remember who is who, I'm pretty sure this is the bassist.

"Oh, doesn't have ANYTHING in it if that is what you are worried about."

"Well, take the fun out of it."

He blinks.

"Well if that is what you are after, I can offer you these cookies."

A bag at his hip slides open and he withdraws a cookie and breaks off a bit.

"What do you think," I turn, "should I take cookies from strangers?"

"What could possibly go wrong?"

I eat the cookie and share, and we giggle while looking at the merch. He buys a shirt and as the purchase is being sealed the Bassist looks at us and tells the story of the cookie.

"We were at this show, like, middle of fucking nowhere, you know. Back of forever. Beyond. Whatever man, the nights were dark and the beds were alright. We were there and I'm standing at the merch like now, and this kid, man, this kid. All night. Just sitting there staring at me. I ask him 'Man you need anything?' and he's like 'NO!' he's fucking emphatic about it, right? But like, man he's like a gargoyle all hunched over, and shit, and I'm like, what the fuck is wrong with this kid? and I try to ask him more questions or something but he just keeps starring at me. And, well, anyway, I'm getting ready to pack it so I can get on stage and this kid just comes rushing me, and I'm like, you know, fuck, cause you know America right now, like is this kid gonna kill me? But like, no, this kid he just slams these huge ass cookies into my money jar and he, like,  shouts, "THAT'S FOR YOU!" and that was like it, man."

"That's amazing," I say.

"That's how you are going to feel in about 20 minutes."

The show was phenomenal. Weedeater stole the performance with their practiced set.

I felt amazing.

Latin American Landings

It's early in the morning.

It's always early in the morning.

Everyone around me is speaking in Spanish.

And now I understand more than I used to.

There is a strangeness here. I am more at home now than I have ever been in. The mornings in Peru are cold and chilly. October is not yet summer, it's late spring. I'm entirely under-packed. I am entirely under-rested.

It is four a.m. and I find my taxi to the airport. The hotel staff is polite and discreet. Mysterious Madame Davila who is living with them for two weeks.

She says almost nothing.
She drinks a negroni at the bar sometimes alone.

She is often frustrated.

Mostly, she is sad.

I can feel the perception and I appreciate the astuteness.

In some places in the world who I am, what I do, is a level of attainment, but there is so much about what I do that is service through and through. I understand the audience because I feel the day to day experience of the audience more than most who stand in the same place. I have never forgotten that I am the audience.

It serves me well.

At four in the morning on the ride to the airport I watch the sunrise over the ocean shore, lapping waves, and the coasts of Lima from Milaflores to the airport.

I am quiet.

Days and days of walking across the tarmac. Myself. Alone. A plane full of travelers at four a.m.

We are all strangers.

We are all alike.

I love the fucking Andes.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Survivors gonna survive

Watching the world melt down for the last three years has not been entertaining. This thing, the exposure of all the toxic underlying reality that some of us have always known and some of us have never known. 

The survivors do what must be done while the collective rest lose their collective mind and wonder what happened to all the decent and normal and wonderful and innocent world...then there is the collective that has just figure out how to keep moving. 

The world has manifested the underbelly. 

I wondered the other day if this is not part of a 100 years cycle that humanity beats to, a single drum of the real, unfettered, human that we are-restrained animal with toys and wealth and capacity far beyond any maturity we have sustained as a species. 

We rush towards the future, looking already head to 2030 and 2040 and 2050...and in the meantime around us are the same signs of a precipice, of a society driven to it's darkest pockets of exclusivity and alienation. Anyone not me is alien. Everyone is alien. 

Burn the whole thing now. 

100 years ago, the 1930s.

100 years later the 2030s. 

Is it any wonder that we haven't even acknowledged the first world war of the twenty aughts. It's a marvel that it is that almost 100 years after the first world war, spanning 2014 to 2018, we have had a repeat.

Perhaps very few people see it, but someday I think there will be historians that look back at us and shake their heads that we have been so naive as not to realize that we are already in the midst of a war that started in the mid 2000s and rages yet still, now a burning ember of a war. We are now all the survivors of the first data wars, and as the fallout continues to settle and winners and losers continue to rise and fall, the trailing threads and insecurities created by the early 21st Century data wars are the burning embers of resentment in culture, social change, and mobility that will eventually become the raging fires of the 2030s. Perhaps by then, it will be fought be weapons, but it seems clear that our desire for blood thirsty pillaging is at the moment being mitigated into a manifested need to control and capitalize. 

It's an odd thing to know that I have lived through a war waged on glowing screens. It is a wonder to know that even more fighting will happen in the next 10 years. This dark war is not one without causalities. Countries have fallen to the misinformation campaigns waged in the twenty aughts. Western democracy attacked mercilessly is in the throes of restoration, yet still strangled by property into capitulating into the defeat that was created very specifically for us. The active campaign may have been exposed, and possibly ended, the consequences still far from revealed. And this is the stage up which we will enter our mid-century. 

I'm curious what will happen halfway through this century, perhaps I will even get to witness it first hand. 

For now, like most survivors, I've been trying to handle myself. The world outside my mind always provided the stability for me to navigated the tender tendrils of my own humanity, which oftentimes is a game of cat and mouse. Can we be human for 24 hours today and if we cannot, what then?

When the world goes mad around you, madness becomes everything. 

Disengaging is a way to handle this. 

Reengaging is another. 

The cluster and cacophony that has been raging is a boil. It spills over. There is so much to say. 

There is so much more to survive. 

Moving Forward

It's taken me awhile to figure out how I want to proceed. Almost 20 years ago, and far beyond that, capturing fleeting feeling and memories, documenting them, shooting them into the was a time honored human tradition.

For thousands of years there are humans out there that cannot help documenting their existence for one reason or another. In some cases, the documentation is fully consented to, an act of life defiance to live so exposed, so open. Nin comes to mind with her radical truth and willingness to shed all her words into the world for her life to be an experience that can be experience by others. There are paintings in caves that are millions of years old, documenting ritual and life, to be sure. However, artists have been found, and we know that even back in through ancient ages someone was telling a less conventional story about humans in the world in favor for the more personal story of one's personal connection to the world.

My world is a strange strange place.

Through pages and pages of this database, my way of skip rocks along the void, I have documented pieces of myself from a variety of ages. Some of those mes are terrifying to relive and I steer away from finding my words then and there and remembering who that was. Some of my words bring great joy and a sense of my absurd duty to the world to keep existing in a state of constant adventure. Some of me are bittersweet. Some of me are falling in love. Some of me suffer through death. Some of me suffer through heartbreak. Some of me dance. Some of my connect with the universe again and celebrate the connection.

It is me though. It's mine.

The survielance state is something I have always been aware of. If we are honest, we have all always been aware of the survielance state, but the overarching and most human expectation of all is that one person, this person, me, is not nearly important enough to be the trained spot in the ether that the state wants to watch.

We were naive.

We are still naive.

And so lets us continue. I have no illusions about what continuing to write could mean but I know what the absence of writing does mean in real physical ways. There is no loss, because I remember, but I like so much recalling it through the lens of me real time, she who was there who is different from I who am now and from she who will yet to be.

It's all paradoxical, continuing makes no sense, and yet, I'd rather have the reality of the exposure of my life and history than nothing at all. A fear of remembering or being remembered makes no sense anymore. Even if we are so insignificant that no one really has considered looking, some ancient years in the future, maybe those will be the scattered pieces of humanity that matter more. Big events are impossible to avoid. The subtly of the human experience to be found in our smaller lives, in a single moment, in my single moment, is far more interesting a discovery to be had, one that can only exist if it is being created.

Thus, the tapestry must continue.

Perhaps it is no longer in order.

Perhaps it will no longer make sense.

Did it ever really make sense?