Mystic Metals Body Jewelry
We have a new reader, so I think we should all say hi. So let's all yay for Lori. Yay! She is a beautiful woman who is under the tutelage of my beautiful and wonderful sister Nancy at their job. They work at a twenty-four hour emergency animal hospital. So when your dumb ass lets Fido eat Reese's peanut butter cups after Thanksgiving dinner when everyone is in the living room twisting and falling into a food coma in front of the football game on the TV, Nanci and Lori are fishing through Fido's poop and spew and keeping it alive. So let's all yay for them. And keep the chocolate away from Fido.
I want to talk about identity. More specifically, I want to talk about recognition. I read quite a bit, probably not as much as I ought, but I try to get it in between arguing with people close to me and slaying Gnomes in video games. I read books, biographies and metaphysical fiction mostly. (What an asshole...) But I also read a ton of news. A ton. I like to stay informed and be an educated voter. I like to know what's going on from all points of view and formulate my own instead of taking my lead from a comedian masquerading as a newsman. Whenever I read an op/ed jam about modification written by an unmodified person, the same topics arise as points of fact. In op/ed columns, there are usually very few points of fact. See also; this blog. The most frequent, or close to the most frequent, battle cry of those who dislike modification seems to be that we do it for attention. To get noticed. To be different aesthetically so that those around us will divert their attention from whatever it is that is wrangling their eyeholes to our faces and tattoos. I patently disagree with this assessment, but I've argued that before to an absurd degree. This isn't about that. But that's a sense that is necessary for what I'm going to talk about. Man, I'm a shitty writer.
We do want to be recognized. We do want attention. Everyone, modded or not. We all want to be respected for what we are, what we think, what we care about, and what we know. Some modified people, I will concede, likely use jewelry and ink to draw that attention. But at our cores, don't we all just want to be recognized for our beauty of self and beauty of mind? Don't we all want to matter for some reason?
I quit my cover band. You kids know that. My last gig is on September eighth. You all should come. This was a hard decision for me for a number of reasons. One is that my job is easy. I drive to a club somewhere, set up my shit, play three hours of music, and then drive home. Easy. Modern bass lines are mindless. See also; everything we play. Workdays are long when you consider driving to the club and driving home with the performance in between. Some of those days can be in the fourteen hour range. And if you don't like getting home at six after driving five hours from Williamsport, PA (home of the Little League World Series), then it's probably not a life for you. But on the whole, it's easy work. It's just music after all; an idiot can play the bass. Another reason has more density. I'm in a wheelchair all day. Most of the day. At the bookstore, at the mall, at the zoo for violent animals with John Cleese. ("Fierce Creatures" joke failure) I'm on stage (what should be) four nights a week. On my stool, in front of my obscenely loud amp, playing as if I am at Madison Square Garden on the last date of a farewell tour. On stage, albeit in the back behind other players next to the drum kit, but up. High. Above. The only time when people look up, physically look up, to me. It's a good feeling. It was anyway. That makes the job easy.
But a series of events spawning from years ago, even possibly at my first joining the band, has sullied the easy and projected a sense of unrecognition. Of invisibility. Of matterlessness. How can someone who is risen on stage, playing sounds that are forcing people to move and dance and gyrate, sometimes hundreds of people pointing and grabbing and believing that you are the artist that actually wrote the song you're playing, feel as if he is invisible and worthless? Because it isn't about the audience at that point. The audience is ancillary to what we are doing on the stage. They will be there regardless of which band is playing, regardless of the songs. They are there for a drink special and, oh look, a band is playing "Call Me Maybe" and "Move Shake Drop." No, I don't care if my audience cares that I exist. I'm a bass player, not a frontman. I'm in the back, hidden but vital. What I care about is that the guys with whom I share the stage care. I want them to appreciate and see my worth, and though there would be an isolated expression of appreciation here and there, I felt invisible to them.
Yes, my guitar player would on occasion tell me that I am very good. Yes, my keyboard player would tell me that he enjoys playing with me. Yes, my frontman and I are best friends. Yes, these things are true and mean a lot to me. And no, I'm not asking for them to beg me to stay. I very much don't want that because I very much want to leave the band. But after sending my last date notice, I would have liked them to respond with something akin to 'sorry to see you go, but thank you for the information.' Instead, they began to talk among themselves about whether an up coming gig is full band or a trio. Not one inkling of recognition of what I had just said to them; what I had just said in a wonderfully drafted and beautifully worded text, by the way. It was actually a second draft. It made my tangibility and opacity seem to become less actual. It made me feel more invisible. The invisibility of the bass player, the bricklayer, the foundation maker. Bass is the canvass on which music is painted. How important the canvass is, but how easily forgotten.
That sounds pitiful, which isn't the intention. The point is recognition and meaning something to someone. This business is not fun. Everyone is replaceable at any moment. As much as each guy's ego and arrogance makes him believe that his worth makes him teflon, the fact is that if your skills wane, if your attitude is sullied, if you become difficult, you will be replaced. So every gig is an audition for your own job. At least, that's how I've handled it. But I am a very good player. Am I the best player? Not in the least, but no one can do what I do, and any band who subtracts my bass is lesser for it. That's not arrogance so much as it is belief in my abilities, and if I am to believe what those at the gigs, club owners and audience, say, then I speak truthfully. The guys in my band are my friends. They can be cocksuckers, as very much I can be, but they are my friends, and in my leaving I assumed that their friend switch would engage and they would make me feel as if they considered me a friend too. That didn't happen, or at least not to my liking. Recognition and attention for the right reasons. That's what we're talking about. As with modification, we want to be recognized and respected for being more the person with the mods and less the mods in the person. I wish they had recognized me as the person with the bass and not the bass played by a person. I shouldn't have expected that, and for that I am wrong. I thought they were better than that, but how can an invisible thing be recognized? It can't. I look forward to never playing bass again, at least anywhere outside of my house. Stay beautiful, kids.
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