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Thursday, January 01, 2009

What A Long... Strange... oh, you know....

It's been a long, strange year, 2008. I'm delighted to have shared last year with all you BanjoSnakers... I put myself out there, too: I played 100 gigs in 2008! ONE HUNDRED! HOLY CRAP! Thank you all so much for your attention and interest and support this past year, and there are plenty of projects in the works from Ars Banjosnake House for 2009... in fact, I don't know how I'm gonna keep up with all of 'em!

But 2009's also gonna be another weird one... apparently, things are about to get ugly economically, and I'm just hoping we can all hold it together and not shoot each other in the streets over old cans of dog food if things turn really rough. Kim and I are doing fine in the long run, as we invested wisely when I sold my house early in the year. Despite that, and despite those 100 gigs, on a day-to-day-bill-paying basis we're pretty broke. For the first time in 20 years I'm gonna get a straight job. I'm wondering how I'll feel about losing control over my own time, but I'm pretty zen about it so far... I'll be painting the walls in Taos' nursing home, and I think the work will be easy and zen-ish in itself, and I tend to like being around those old folks. Kim and I have solid savings, it's true, but we'd like to use those bucks to add on to the house or something, and don't want to just sit around and live off 'em like pampered pussies. I posted a blog earlier in the year called "How Much Coin Does A Man Need" that provoked all kinds of snarky comments and well, y'all are getting your revenge... time for me to work like a real human.

Lots of good things happened, and I'm thrilled to have experienced them: I got married to a great lady that I constantly delight in, and we honeymooned in Ireland for a couple of blissful, whiskey-soaked weeks. Great stuff. As I mentioned, I sold my beloved but somewhat elegantly-decaying old hacienda and moved in with Kim. I've missed my adobe compound, but not even close to what I thought I would. Playing those 100 gigs was sometimes trying, but usually fun and sure as hell beats cleaning toilets for a living, even at worst. I got my first colonoscopy... really odd to see my insides on a TV screen! And we went to the polls and elected a black man to be president of the U. S. of A! Damn straight! Made me proud to wake up on my native soil once more, I'll tell ya.

But even with fantastic highs that I wouldn't have missed for anything, the day-to-day life of 2008 was often a gray drudgery, and reading over my diary I often noted depression, or that I felt bad physically. Life is a challenge, both personally and collectively. That's just the way it is, and I'd better get used to it.

Towards the end of 2008, with excitement and hope about Obama in the air mixed with fear and loathing of the endless war and the economic meltdown, I saw a few comparisons of the times with the sixties, so I read a few books about the decade of my birth and now I think: these times aren't anything like the sixties!

I am very fond of the art, the music, and the social changes that the sixties brought this country and the world, but I actually believe we might be on the brink of far greater change and shining times than we saw in the sixties.... I've got my own personal fear and loathing, but I really think we might turn things around over the next few years. I'm not sure what I'll contribute to the hoped-for change; I don't know if the hoped-for change will benefit myself and my loved ones, if it happens at all; and even though it may all crumble to the ground like twigs and ashes, I 'm happy that optimism seems viable again.

I'm not altogether happy with this post, and that in itself reflects to me the confusion of this past year. It's always about hopes and fears, folks, and so tempting to start psychotheraputically listing all my perceived failures and "new year's resolutions" (guffaw) and dumping that load of shit on y'all. But what the hell would that do except exhaust you and effectivly prevent you reading this blog for months? Perhaps the operative quote for 2008 is that from The Joker in Batman: The Dark Knight when he hisses "...whatever doesn't kill you makes you... stranger." In the aftermath of one crazy, pissed, happy, busy, lazy, confused-as-shit year with its sky-highs and subterranean-lows and lots of fog in between, I'll take that as a legacy worth hanging on to, or at least keeping in the back of our minds. Thanks for sharing the ride with me, and stay tuned... there's lots more art and writing and deep-fried, golden-brown folk-n-roll... and strangeness! to come!

Happy New Year, y'all...


Blogger Dharmonia said...

Great post - and I agree with you 100 per cent about the 60s. This ain't nothin' like the 60s. I started the 60s as a really little camper and ended them as a teenager, but that was old enough to pick up on some of the stuff that was going on. And while there was a sense of optimism in the middle there, by the end it was pretty grim.

Here's what people aren't getting: Our current times are not LIKE the 60s. They are the RESULT of the 60s. Let me explain:

Many people in the 60s worked and struggled hard for change, on many different levels; but I think there were also a lot of others who got disenchanted when they realized that there wasn't going to be an imminent shift of consciousness that would be complete by 1970. A lot of the impetus for change came from young people, and many of them became quite discouraged when the change didn't happen fast enough.

So a lot of people just gave up. But most change does not happen quickly - change is SLOW, and sometimes spins out in ways that could not be predicted by those who lit the spark. The wheels that had been set in motion in the 60s did not stop turning when John Lennon got shot and Reagan got elected, no matter what some people may think. I could name hundreds of good things now, from the arts to the Green movement, whose seeds were sown in the 60s and early 70s. I could also name some less wonderful things. Here are two examples:

1) Fundamentalism. To quote Ulysses Everett McGill, in the 60s "everybody's searchin' for answers," and while that led some people to Eastern philosophies and different kinds of soul-searching, I think a lot of people just were relieved when they discovered that a good fundamentalist religion will give you some answers and let you sleep at night. Whew! We're right, they're wrong, life sucks but I'm going to heaven.

2) The ridiculous "If you're against the war, you don't support the troops" crap that came up in the last 8 years comes straight out of the collective shame that we as a country deservedly feel for the inexcusably shitty way we treated the guys who came home a mess from Vietnam in the 60s and 70s. The pendulum often swings the opposite way in order to bring about a correction; maybe we're starting to find the middle ground.

No one tends to connects any of that kind of stuff with the 60s, but it's all a great big continuum. I could think of more examples, but this is already too long for a blog comment!

The sixties are probably the only damned thing that kept us from becoming a complete police state in the last 8 years. And we would not, could not, have elected a black president last month if the 60s had not happened. As the saying goes, Rosa sat so Martin could walk so Obama could run. Amen.

12:02 PM  

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