Mystic Metals Body Jewelry
The Boat Woman
I Changed My Mind
I've been gone a while, huh. I had a pill refill problem and have been trapped in a wonderful little carbonite box called 'my brain.' It hasn't been fun; I wouldn't suggest a visit. That damned Boba Fett sold me down the river, man. The crazy river. But I'm back, still pillless, but I have an interesting story to tell for which I could use some feedback. So enjoy. Or don't. Or maybe enjoy it a little, but not too much.
My days as the bass player for my current band are coming to an end. My own decision, or at least that is my perception of it. This will be the third time I quit this particular band, and I hope this one sticks. Quitting a band isn't easy if you're a nice guy, and contrary to the opinions of some of the cats in my band, I'm a nice guy. Amid the third attempted quitting, there was a bit of controversy, and I'd like to address it here because I think you guys will understand. And understanding is what I need right now. See, you guys are like cheap therapy for me.
There are a couple of ways to leave a band. One is to be fired, which has never happened to me. I'm a better bass player than you may think. The second is to have a huge, soap opera style blow up where everyone yells out the things that they should have but never said in the first place. The divorce on your thirtieth anniversary because you left the cap off of the toothpaste on your honeymoon. Then there's the sinking ship. The entire crew knows the boat is going down, but no one is willing to admit that the abandon ship call is the right thing to do. That's sort of to where the band I am finally leaving arrived. But there's a lead up. And it's relevant. Every band has problems. Most of them involve ego and attitude, myself included. I don't have much of an ego, but everyone needs a little bit of one in order to step on a stage. If you don't think you're the best at what you do once the lights hit you, I don't want to be in your band. These things boil over, but what is difficult is the narrow room for error. One such error is changing your mind. It's difficult to do.
What the hell am I talking about it. OK. Here's the low down. I changed my mind about something and in turn have professionally effected the other cats in my band. One of my players got us a gig doing a ferry. The boat goes out into the bay, filled with families and tourists and other such irritating things, and while they look at water related things, a band plays. We got that gig. It's descent pay for a little bit of work. We all agreed to do the gigs. There was, however, a personal problem. The woman organizing the awful sounding shindig has trepidations about my face; specifically, my modifications. The player in my band who orchestrated the agreement told me this. He said she was unsure that my look was family friendly, and when we get to the joint before the gig, I was to talk to her and convince her that I won't eat anyone or play while suspending or whatever horrors she could possibly think that modified people do. My player delivered this caveat with a smile and a 'don't worry about it,' and I shrugged it off as not being a problem, also with a smile. Keep in mind, I've never met the broad running the boat gig, nor has she seen more of me than still photos on our band's website. My player mentioned the situation a number of times, and each time I told him I'd deal with it or that it was not a problem. Still with smiles and jokes.
I thought about it over a couple weeks. I thought. I prayed. I thought. I changed my mind.
A month out from the boat gig thing, I offered the date for my last gig with the band. My player who organized the boat thing was upset at me that I chose not to do the gig, saying that I am making him look bad by not doing it. I agreed and apologized for misleading him, and I explained to him my reasons.
There is a certain look that is necessary in my line of work. If you're too old, too fat, too anything that is unappealing to look at (from the point of view of our demographic of 21 to 35 year old woo girls) then you're not going to get a lot of work playing the style of music that we have chosen; namely, modern top 40 and hip hop. If you're doing sixties' and seventies' rock covers, then being an old guy can help you. The ability to play is a second to the look. This isn't my rule; this is a rule handed down by some of the best talent agents in the business. Who am I to argue. I'm just a bass player (who has to sit down when he plays). Fortunately, my look translates well into the scene. Again, told to me by agents. It's a shitty matter of fact in show business, but that's the way it is.
Back to the story. Upon thinking about the request of the woman who booked the boat gig (whom I've never met, as a reminder), I decided that she can go pound sand. I don't want to have to deal with a yes ma'am, no ma'am, shine yo shoes for ya kind of selling solely because she has an aversion to stretched lobes and facial piercings. She must have a certain opinion about my (and our) culture of body modification, and I would imagine that the majority of her assumptions are incorrect. Her chief query (as I understand it second hand from my player who got the gig) is this: Is my aesthetic family friendly? Rather than selling myself to this woman and thereby lobbying for her acceptance of my self outside of modification, I chose to not address it at all. The repercussions are upsetting and I am saddled with guilt because of it.
I screwed over my player who got the gig and the other cats in my band by making a late decision (albeit a month out from the gig) to not play the gig. My player who got the gig is in a couple of other bands, so as I understand it, his ability to replace me for this gig oughtn't be too difficult. As a matter of fact, he's said as such. I apologized for the timing of my refusal to do the gig, but not for my reasons not to do it. My apology has yet to be accepted, and I anticipate it to not be, which I accept and understand. I'd be salty too. But what I would also have done, were I in the booking situation, is to have gone to bat for my guy and told the woman that he's our man and he doesn't need to impress you; you want us, you get all of us as we are. I've been in that spot before, believe it or not, so I think I can speak on it. An older band I was in had played clubs that weren't the most friendly to blacks, and as my co-singer is black, my lead and I told the clubs we would't play unless my black singer were welcomed too. We lost those gigs, but we did the right thing.
The question I have is not whether I am family friendly or not. I know I am family friendly, and I know I am much more pure of soul and goodness than most people I know or have ever met. I try to live Christ's life, which doesn't always go well, but I try. No, the question I have is did I do the right thing? I endangered the reputation of my player who booked the gigs, and threatened the future bookings for the rest of the cats in my band with this boat woman in order to preserve in myself, and myself alone, as much dignity and self-respect that I could by not turn coating on a culture to which I vehemently subscribe. What kind of person would I be if I didn't make noise about this? I've written three books (blurb.com, search A. Robert Basile and buy them please!) about the culture. I write a blog, I talk to people, educate them and myself about the society and culture of modification. I have devoted a large portion of my life to it. In this situation, the choice is selling out my band or selling out my sociological beliefs and culture. There's no way I could win in this one. Did I do the right thing?
My timing was poor, and I own that. I've apologized for that, and I'll repent assuming my contrition will be accepted. But making this decision was a difficult one, and I can understand that to the unmodified cats in my band it doesn't seem to be that big of a deal. But to me it is. A more important question (that just dawned on me as I was writing this sentence) is this: Am I damaging the culture by not even trying with this boat woman? Should I have gone to speak with her in order to advocate for the entire culture? That gets tiring; I do it everyday with unfriendly unmodded folk. I don't have to tell you cats and kittens that. You do it too, don't you. We present ourselves with kindness and understanding and educated conversation in order to alleviate the rude and sometimes mean things we hear about choosing modification as a lifestyle. (My favorite will always be, "How can your mother be proud of you?" That was a fine conversation.)
My player who booked the gig has a right to be pissed at me from a business point of view. From a friendship point of view, I hope that he understands. And if he doesn't, then I'm sorry for that, but money and a gig isn't worth my having to prove that people can be modified and also be nice to others. People should have enough sense to discern that for themselves. My cousin Dave is more like a brother, and also a role model to me. His lobes are larger than mine, and I have never met a better father and husband. (Excluding my own, of course, but I think you get the point.) What of his modifications sullies his character? Nothing. Neither yours nor mine because aesthetic and content of character are not as intrinsic as people would like to believe. No one should have to prove the worth of his soul to someone who has damned it with a passing glance of its wrap. Stay beautiful, kids.
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