news from the crippled front

blog was originally posted to The Dresden Dolls Diary.



so i found out that i have arthritis in my right index finger, from overplaying. It’s been bothering me for months, since about september, but i’ve been doing almost nothing about it. now i’m facing the ice and the arnica.
despite that news, i sit here and type away, exacerbating the problem i am sure with my clickity clackity habits. late last night as i was bemoaning the state of my sad swollen digit and washing out a wine glass in the sink, the glass exploded (i was NOT drunk, yet) and gashed a half-dime-sized chunk out of the finger on my OTHER hand. so now i’m a fucking bi-lateral cripple. actually, i am writing this using a stick in my mouth.

the rest of the night was good. we took all the cash that we’d collected for the pan 9 fire disaster (give at at the onion cellar and steven counted it on my kitchen table and all the piles of cash were funny so noah and becca and katrina and i set up the table to look like a drug den. we used white face powder for cocaine and dumped it all on a falco LP (yes, “rock me amadeus” falco). steve bundled up the tens and twenties while i shot pictures, trying to make everything look incriminating. if the feds come, i’m fucked. maybe this entry will prove me innocent.

the responses from that last entry destroyed me. how many times do i have to say it? yes, i read every comment. every comment on myspace, every comment on the website journal page.
it blew me away to imagine so many people within such a short time reading and responding. must have hit a nerve. i will come back to this. it got me to thinking about why i love this so much, why i do it.

i am constantly called on to explain, to journalists, to whoever, why i do what i do, why i write, why i perform. i feel like it’s taken me years to discover (admit?) what it is about this that’s compelling.
people laugh nervously when i tell them that i’m not passionate about music and never really was. i’ve always been passionate about what music DOES, what it CREATES. when and if i find other ways of doing it, it’s all the same.
making theater can be similar. music has it’s own special magic that nothing else touches, nothing achieves. but being honest about it seems to ruin the fun for people, for fans, for journalists. i don’t LOVE writing songs. i love having written them, i love HAVING them. i love watching them WORK. it’s hard to explain. i try:

when i was 10 or 11, i remember being really bored one summer weekend and coming up with a fantasy that i could create a fair/circus in my parent’s backyard. oh my god, i was unstoppable. i wasn’t as concerned with the details of how to arrange for people to attend this stupendous event as i was with spending every waking minute of the next three days sitting behind my parents ancient apple IIe and creating a FLYER for this non-existent wonderland. i created a map of what it would like like, where the rides and vendors would be, what you could buy at the merchandising stand. this was, fucking, 1986. then i got distracted by the likelihood that it would be an abortion-like, unromantic yard sale with the neighborhood kids and i moved on to other things.

when i was 18 or 19, i remember living in the basement of eclectic, the society i belonged to at wesleyan university. i had somehow gotten ahold of a 3-disc collection (stolen from the college radio station, i’m pretty sure) called “the beat generation”. it was a compilation of wicked hip 50s ephemera, music, spoken word, it truly set the scene. allen ginsberg, lenny bruce, recordings of kerouac reading aloud, bop and more bop, burroughs….they were all there. i was unhip. i’d had no idea. it was like all of a sudden someone had walked me in the backdoor of a place i’d been craving to visit since birth. i remember freaking my shit out night after night thinking “what are we DOING???? we’re doing NOTHING!!! fuck. we could be DOING everything!!!!” i felt like i had found what i came to college for, but instead on it being on campus, it was on compact disc. eclectic was an old house with lots of character and there was a large room across from mine, in the basement, with a padlock on the door. i found the key from someone and came upon an empty, dingy space the size of a large living room and my mind went wild: “yes, YES ! here ! this is where we’ll put the tables and chairs. this is where we’ll put the stage. i’ll make coffee. we’ll drink whiskey. we’ll chain-smoke. fuck this is going to be AMAZING.” i even (and this part i’m embarrassed to admit) started donning my hip russian sailor shirt and hep fifties beret when cleaning out the space (oh yes, with awl and broom and vacuum, it took days, and my papers and grades suffered most likely). i was so convinced i would create bohemia for my campus. the only problem was, i had no friends and no idea what to do next, after i’d cleaned it. so i got distracted by the likelihood that it would be an abortion-like, unromantic cesspool of unsuccessful beer-drinking and uninspired chain-smoking, much like the parties we were having weekly on the top floor, where even things as hip and hep and shooting heroin didn’t have any substance, everyone was just so blase, bored and over it all. i moved on to other things.

when i was 24 or 25, i moved into the cloud club and immediately started organizing events. the cloud club is a fantasy space, four floors of architectural exploded vintage wonderland gaudi bliss. pope would help me run the parties…we would have 300, 400 people over. we called them (after the shadowbox theater that i was running at the time) the Box Events. The first was Box I, the second Box II, and so forth. I booked performers of all kinds…bands, dancers, poets, filmmakers, whatever, we squeezed it all in and people performers upstairs in the attic-space, in the garden, in my bedroom, in the empty apartments, wherever there was space. but i noticed something about my quality of time during these events. i was RUNNING them, not really attending. much like the brigade nowadays when we’re on tour, i couldn’t really enjoy what i had created.

but i sort of enjoyed it that way. i sort of loved floating around all night, wearing a stained and ripped kimono and always having a sloshing wine in one hand and a nat sherman cigarette in the other and feeling like i was some sort of self-made art deco portrait gone bad. greeting people, meeting people, but most of all (my favorite) wathcing people come into the house and seeing their reaction to the atmosphere. watching people light up, watching people get inspired, excited, everyone sharing some feeling that we were somewhere special, all together and maybe never to be repeated. good conversations come out of a space like that. it that sense, i always assumed, that’s what these events were for. the art, the performers, the stained kimono were just there so that person A might actually get into a better conversation with person B than if they met at a downtown sports bar. i loved running through my kitchen to by bedroom to grab something and seeing people i barely knew sitting on my couch, engaged in some sort of profound conversation. my head would turn and see them and say YES YES YES ye sYES !! this is why i do THIS//////but i could never slow down to sit there and be a part of it. i was always moving too fast. this is what it’s like at shows. no matter how much i want to enjoy the world i’ve created, i’m usually too tired or too busy and distracted. i always wish i could bottle it, take it home and enjoy it in peace, in small and luxurious doses.

here;s the thing. in a totally bizarre way, i feel like the blog fills this gap. though there’s no hep music and no intimate mood lighting to enhance your experience, these calls and responses are basically distilled essences of profound party conversation. even better, they’re here for me to peruse at my leisure and respond to at will, without having to rush off and make sure the house/club isn’t on fire. the quality of the comments is exactly representative of the party swath. some people don’t respond, they stand in the corner and smile and clutch on to their beer for dear life. some people add sharp and short but perfectly timed comments. some people talk a blue streak (i was mesmerized by the 2-foot comment one of you left about your entire life and ex-girlfriend sasha and how it';s all intertwined. jesus. but awesome). but the fact that we’re all here at the same time, riffing on the same subject, this is miraculous. there’s an incredible book by nicholson baker called The Fermata in which the protagonist has the secret power to stop time and move through the world as everybody and everything else holds perfectly still. this is sort of how it is: the blog is like a fermata at a perfect party. you can stop at one conversation and enter it. you can skip forwards and backwards in time and find those things and utterances with which you connect. the band did have to come first, but jesus, now there’s tHIS? how did i get so lucky? i finally went to visit pete wentz’s blog to see what he was writing about. i was disappointed. i want DETAILS, motherfucker. give me some soul. lets’ not even get INTO avril’s blog., it’s a tragedy. the only thing i regret is that the comment section of these things doesn’t work like a forum in which you can comment on people’s comments and actually start a conversation. this would be more interesting. maybe you can do that. i am a luddite.

anyway that is my I Am Amazed By technology speech of the day.

i was driving home yesterday (in my benevolent landlord’s car, which is named cloud one, which is what the license plate says, since the volvo is resting peacefully in inert woe) from having dinner with my folks out in lexington. this fucked up thing had happened earlier in the day to the driver’s-side window…it just broke off it’s track and jutted out of it’s window-bed like a huge menacing triangle. it wouldn’t roll up or down, it was just stuck and letting in all of the freezing rain. i cranked the heat and was barreling down route 2 and listening to NPR, which had been loaded with martin luther king (jr) speeches and stories due to the holiday. somewhere, the windshield wiper in front of me stopped working. i mean, it moved, but the wiper blade just crapped out completely and the freezing rain collected in front of my field of vision, blurring the road completely. i tried, at two separate red lights, to get out and wipe the blade off, straighten it, tame it, but it was fruitless. the blurred patch in front of my face (whihc was really only about 4 inches, but it was EXACTLY where i needed to see the road ahead of me) was still covered in frozen schmutz.

so i was getting freezing-rained on while trying to figure out which was wiser: try to adjust to the blurry version of the road through the frozen schmutz or try to artfully tilt my head to one side, to the left or the right by 4 inches, to get a clear view of the road in front of me. while i listened to martin luther king rallying for the general strike in memphis. it occured to me that this was fucking life, most of the time. you don’t ever get a clear view of whats in front of you, the wiper can’t be fixed, and you';re basically left with the decision of whether to adjust your eyes to the blur or crane your neck. your choice, but you gotta make it or you’re going to crash, motherfucker. when king started to ramp up the speech to the part about not fearing anything and how the march had to be and stay non-violent, i lost it and started to bawl. three days later he was shot. this really helped in the visibility department. wait, it gets better.

as i pulled onto storrow drive, i started to get static. this has been happening every day for the past 2 months, since i’ve been driving on storrow to get from boston to cambridge. it’s only with NPR, it’s just like a void that cuts out. you can get about 45% of whats being said but i usually get so sucked into the news that i deal with the static for that 3 minutes, knowing it will go away. it usually sounds something like this: “.BRRRZZZrrrrrttttsaid that the US shshshshhhshhhhtackle the violence or it would spiralsshshshshshsggghhh as a result of Shias killing Sunnis anzzzrrrrrrrrrromments came after 70 people ZZZZrrrrrrrrSHHHHH injured in a double bombing at a Baghdad univerZREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEblew up outside Mustansiriyah UnivzzzrrrrrrrrrrKAAAAARRRKKKKAAAAAsuicide bomber then targeted studeBBSSSSZZZZZZttttt” etc. sometime there’s some beats form a nearby frequency in there to give the news some nicely needed soundtrack/irony. anyway, i was dirving into the static pocket and for some reason, instead of just static it was a complete warp between two stations. i recognized the song. o, did i recognize it. it was “lost cause” from beck’s Sea Change album. the universe was definitely lining shit up. it was pairing up the song (beck would have loved the poetry of this i’m sure) with MLK jr’s “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech and it sounded sort of like this:

pzzZSHHHHHHHHHHZZZZHhhh/KKzzzi’m tired of fightingzzzzzzzrrrrrreZZZZZZZZZZhhhhthe nation is sick, trouble is in the land, confusion all aroundzzzzzzhhhhhthe masses of people are rising upzzzhhrrrrrr assembled today, whether they are in johannesburg, south africa; nairobi, kenyazzzzzzzhhheeeI’m tired of fightinghRRRgggggyork city; Atlanta Gerogia; zzzzzzzrrror memphis, tenessee, the cry is always the same: we want to be freeZZZZZZZHHHHHHfighting for a lost cause…..

it dried my tears and made my entire night.

p.s. no word from mr. dark haired/hat man.
then again, i haven’t emailed him.


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