15 August, 2012

The Down Eyes

presented by
Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

The Down Eyes

I'm grumpy and stressed out, so this intro paragraph may be a little mean. I was out at a bar last night with my brother Q. A band from the same agency that our band (Q and I) are on was playing. We like to see what other bands are doing, how they're playing, and why they are getting better rooms than we are. The band's name may or may not rhyme with Goodman Fiske. Actually, it is Goodman Fiske. I was thoroughly impressed with how uninteresting, unentertaining, and purely sloppy they were. Before they started playing, some broad with awful shoes and too much eyeliner gave me a schedule card for the band. Wow. I wish I had that schedule. Right now the band that I'm in plays infrequently for shit money at shit clubs, but these guys have an awesome schedule at great rooms, and we have come to learn that they make more money than we do. By a lot. Embarrassing. They even have a vertical, which in the scene means the same day of the week at the same club. Every Tuesday at Drunk Sluts Tavern, for example. Now, I'm not a shittalker of other bands, but to know the favoritism that the agency is offering to a band with less skill and showmanship really makes you take stock of what you yourself are doing. It makes you think, 'If I am better than this guy, why is he successful and I'm not?' It's like finding out that an employee of another branch of the company you work for is getting a raise when you know you work ten times harder and lightyears better. It hurts the soul a little. On the upside, it confirms what everyone says; that I'm the (second) best bass player in the scene. Respect to Mikey Dredds from Lost In Paris, of course.

So I quit the band. No, the shitty and boring performance of Goodman Fiske didn't make that decision for me. Other things did. A great many things. But chiefly I'm going to write about a reason that relates to the over all point of this blog. Or at least I'm going to try. No promises on the quality; after all, why read this when the bass player from another band with a third of the talent can do it in a better room for more money, right?

There's a club in Cape May, NJ where we play. It's one of the remaining clubs down the shore (and I'm from Jerz, so it's down the shore) that we've kept this summer. We've gotten the axe at a lot of shore clubs because of agency negligence, or so I choose to believe. They treat us pretty well there, and we seem to sell. Cape May is a cool town. The downtown area where the shopping and eating and other assorted vacation bullshit is looks like the setting to either a WB teen drama or a slasher film. Dan and I have discussed this a length. The Ugly Mug is one of several clubs down there where we've played and played well. It features a moveable stage which is erected in a small dining area. This is where we play through the night and entertain the vacationers.

The stage oughtn't be as small as we make it to be. My drummer sets his kit up at an awkward angle, my guitar player has the entire stage right third of the stage, my singer gets a small square of stage at the front, and my keyboard player gets what remains on the left side. I am supposed to set up my gear (a four by ten Hartke cabinet running a Hartke 4000 head, a stool, a tuner pedal, and a footstool. Oh, and bag of Double Bubble bubble gum; can't play without it.) behind my keyboard player. My cab is on the windowsill behind me. Two gigs ago at this joint, I couldn't play on the stage. My keyboard player's ass was bumping into my knuckles and my elbow was denting the screen of my cabinet. I moved to the floor where I played the remainder of the gig.

This is getting long, so I'll skip some details. This last gig here, we set up and without discussion, I set my shit up on the floor off of the stage where I ended up at the last gig. This upset Marquis quite a bit, which I appreciated. The other guys didn't seem to care much (or at least didn't communicate any upset), which from certain point of view, I can't blame them for. We all have tasks to do while setting up, especially when we're crunched for time, which we usually are. Now, to describe the floor spot, it is a bit like this. In the spot where all the guitar cases and cable bags go, I clear a spot for my stool. Bags and cases and unsightly things surrounding me in the spot where no one can see them, I'm tucked behind the sub woofer (which is about hip height and two times my width) and atop the sub woofer is a post which holds the main speaker. I can't be seen back there, and I am on my stool at the floor level with the audience. Obviously, the reason why we put the bags and cases there is because they can't be seen. Like me.

Maybe it was a bad head day. Maybe I was touchy and angry at other things. Maybe I was being a little boy about it. But this was the straw and the camel and all of that. Usually when I hear that idiom, I'm moved to think that the straw crushing the camel is a momentous thing which is accompanied by an outburst or a scene. This wasn't that. I played my show without mistakes (as usual). With respect to Q and his ire with my stage situation, I wanted more of a reaction from my band. I wanted them to go to bat for my pride and my importance. They didn't and that hurt. So I put in my extremely well written and worded notice of leaving the band via a group text message the next day; a message that only got a response after Q asked if anyone was going to respond.

There are a couple layers here that are beyond the control of the band. The biggest is this, which is purely on me and no one else. All day long I sit in my wheelchair. I sit at half hight of everyone around me over the age of twelve. I go places, the bookstore, Walmart, the mall, the park. I sit and wheel around. I talk to strangers who ask me about my mods, my chair, my beard. And when I do, they look at me. In order to see my face and my moving, talking lips, they look downward because I am sitting. Always sitting. There is never a malicious intent; it's just the physics of things. I am lower therefore they must look lower. My job is a very attention garnering one. People look at a band when they play (or they should unless you're the band I saw last night who had listeners facing away to talk to their companions over the poorly played music). On stage is the only time when people have to look up to me in the denotative sense. It feels good. It makes me feel important. It's the only time eyes are up to me during the day, and not down. The down eyes, though impossible to avoid, can build themselves into an unintentional and unavoidable hurt. I need the stage to reset that hurt, and at the gig at Ugly Mug, I saw the down eyes again. A simple courtesy and need robbed of me and I could only think that it was avoidable with a little more care an interest from my band (sans Q, of course).

My lunacy and absurd psychosis is not the fault of my band, and I don't blame them for their lack of intuition toward my feelings. I was hoping, however, that their own goodness and respect for me would personify itself in their own personal discomfort in order to accommodate my temporary comfort. Didn't happen, and the way my mind works, that speaks to my ability and importance in the band. It turns from a simple 'there's just not enough room for everyone' to a complicated 'put the cripple on the floor in the corner; he's not important.' I know that is psychotic knee jerking, but I think that I'd still be in this band if my guys showed some more heart an took it upon themselves to do something. I tend to think that taking it upon yourself is an immediate and intrinsic thought for all people. I am naive to that, I've learned; and maybe that is what upsets me most. Do me a favor, kids; take it upon yourself. Whatever the situation is. You could be doing more for someone than you may realize. Stay beautiful, kids.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

  1. I know you wanted me to read this just so I could tell you what I think *wink*. I obviously don't know all of the details but since we have (in my humble opinion) so much in common with our thought process, I feel I may be able to say something that clicks.
    What I've learned over the years is that it is unfair for us to decide and then label the behavior of other people based on our perception. Maybe unfair is too judgmental, it is our prerogative as individuals to feel however it is that we feel. Perception is reality and blah blah blah.
    Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, all of your feelings are legit but you can't give up pieces of yourself and what you enjoy because other people are senseless. As my momma used to say "don't cut off your nose to spite your face".
    I've learned, that I have to share the way I feel and that certain things affect my feelings. If, after I've communicated this, and the pattern of behavior continues, then I can feel like it's a personal hit but unless someone knows the way you feel, it's hard to hold them accountable.
    In a stage setting, everyone wants to be a star and quite frankly, it's a selfish situation for all involved. If you are the one in the group that conforms easier or has more of a willingness to change, they may just assume you prefer to be where you are. There's a fine line.

    Is it terrible that you felt the way that you did? Absolutely. You are effing amazing and you know it! You can't let this keep you down. You gotta believe in you and stand up for you. Who is going to have your back if you don't? Besides, there is no one else in this world supporting the Double Bubble corporation. Plus, you gotta give these crap bands a run for their money. If, in the end, I am wrong in assuming good intentions, these ex band members are the ones that are going to miss out. Hopefully they can grow and realize. After all, that's what we are here for.
    Peace and love sweetums, peace and love.