Yestitty. Is how they say Yesterday here.

We’re back in Asheville (note: seventies style cop buddy movie set in the mountains, Back in Actionville? Back in Aksheville? Or set in Arkansas. Back in AKshville.) We’re playing a show tonight at the Burger Bar, a deceptively named dive towards whom I still nurse a small resentment for that one night when I really really wanted a hamburger.

We went to the Odditorium last night where everybody who couldn’t afford the six dollar cover charge sat outside on the patio with their dogs, conning people who had paid to go inside to buy drinks for them. Mickey and Ali went off with a pixie looking widget named Sarah to play tunes in a field. I slouched around for awhile, smiling with my face and talking and generally proving myself as an accredited human bean. I met a teacup Pomeranian named Hooker (named for her affectionate nature) who looked like a golden dandelion puff with a face. She weighed 3.1 pounds. I met another one of Aaron’s high quality ex-girlfriends, who now has a chunky blond baby with enormous cheeks and fat ankles. His name is Max. I am comforted in the fact that should Aaron and I ever part, I will be joining the ranks of a distinguished and lustrous organisation. Of course, they spent most of their chat together arguing about exactly how long they dated for, with poorly concealed affront and butt-hurtedness on both sides. I squeezed the baby’s fat ankles and noted, aloud, that two such neurotic and high strung, greyhound-like individuals would no doubt have made a poor couple, that they still made a poor couple, and that they should in fact shut up now because they were boring. They laughed like I was joking. The baby shrieked like a pterodactyl. I excused myself to the bar.

Another, oh, twenty minutes of charming everyone in sight, and I went and got my book, to sit on a curb under a streetlamp down from all the bars til the white-boy alt rock and satan-lite metal blended into a sticky aural toffee that was mostly quashed by the wind. I read a story about dead cats until the dust got in my eyes too bad and rain was starting to fall on the pages.

They were still going strong back in the bar, dreadlocks a’swangin, Cousin It hair a’quiverin, small muscular men bouncing around, their bald bullet heads making intimate contact with other people’s softer bits.

I will confess, I love to mosh. It’s the natural extension of the fighting style I developed to beat my brother, the Boxing Octopus. You just flail like a psycho, taking up maximum room with your limbs and creating maximum unpredictability about what part of their body is going to get hit. It is more scary than painful, but it works well until your opponent figures that out. Garek, unfortunately, discovered in pretty quickly.

So moshing is like the support group for Boxing Octopi. We can come together and flail and hit each other and not mind. Nothing like seeing somebody rise up from the floor like a goddamn phoenix, beaming at you through bloody teeth.

The lead singer of the last band sort of looked like a professional kayaker, or some other slightly irritating modern sport. He was covered in bright cheerful tattoos and wearing cut-off khakis and screaming into the mike til all the veins on his neck popped out. Somebody hit me low in the legs as they went down and took me down with them. A skull hit me in the cheek. I rock climbed up people’s t-shirts and threw myself back into the bodies.

I was probably only in there about ten minutes, the very end of the show. I walked out trembling from the adrenaline. And probably dehydration.

Vaden, who is  rock-hard skinny and blond and pre-occupied, stumbled past, calling, “Gonna puke. Right back.” He was. He stared at us with a blank, serious face. “I was just really over-heated and some guy hit me under the ribs with his head. Also, I ate too much popcorn.” His face crumpled up and he giggled.

I got tired pretty soon after that and started the very lowest gear of whine. Forty-five minutes of steady acceleration got us into the car and home. I made a silent midnight grilled cheese and we sat on the porch swing, looked up our respective McScottish ancestry and compared plaids.

I woke up all peaceful and centred and Zen, but I was so peaceful that I fell back asleep. The second time I woke up I was in the more familiar hyper-active squirrel of foggy and sourceless Catholic guilt state. I made kebabs and tried not to experience anything too too much. Aaron was in a wussy car accident, so then I had to experience a thing, which was watching the tide of emotional manipulation rise up in me and mostly not reacting to it. “You did a thing wrong and now I will make you feel as bad as possible so that I have the moral highground and can hold it over your head for when I need things, and also just so I can be in a dominant position.” All this is mostly indicated to the person in question through a turned head and flattened tone. It’s very effective, but feels nasty and separates you from your loved ones. I hugged and forgave, decently free of smug condescension.

I don’t really have a moral for today. Um. Go outside in the sun. Get off your phone. Let yourself have an honest emotional reaction, even if it’s gross. I love you.

 

 

About To Play

Photo on 24-06-16 at 20.20

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Yestitty. Is how they say Yesterday here.

An Attempt

Trying to write about things. What can I write about? I’m here in America. In the South. In North Carolina. In Asheville. They have too much money coming in and the core of the city is slowly crumbling away through lack of sustenance, but it’s obscured by the lacquer of tourists and specialty gift emporiums and eco-sustainable recycled cutlery shops. Soon it will not be a place, it will, like all places that become popular, be a shell that is shaped around a place that used to be. Hollow, see? People keep trying to do that to New Orleans but it is so full of hustlers and so mercurial and dirty-filthy-drunk-holy that it bounces back with slow indifference to every leeching attack.

I’ve been trying to fast for Ramadan. I did well the first day, and then I had to travel to play in Gatlinburg at a moonshine distillery where we were stared at by sunburned children and grannies while their parents (or children. respectively) quaffed free tiny cups of apple pie- and root beer-flavoured shine inside and screamed, “U.S.A!” every seventeen minutes, approximately. They became, as Nature dictates, schwasted.

We were not allowed to drink during our performance due to past musicians who, in our sound guy’s tactful language, “became belligerent.” Read that as swore at prospective moonshine purchasers for a) Being too loud b) Heckling c) Generalised hatred of the public combined with the corroding effects of alcoholism and singing na blues. Nevertheless, a case of beer was purchased and quietly overlooked in various opaque cups and mugs. “Pass me the coffee,” was a phrase often heard ‘ponst that stage.

It is hard to be a musician during Ramadan.

I am officially a Sufi. I am not officially a Muslim. I took hand (was initiated) when I was three, with a man who is now devoutly anti-religion, a fact that plagues me late at night when I’ve worn out all my other worries. I never took Shahada, the initiation for Muslims. I wonder at myself. I wonder what my duties are, if they are any. I know that traditional Muslims would be horrified at my lifestyle. I know that in some ways I emulate the Somali guys at Palmer’s in Cedar-Riverside, have been since before I ever knew them, chugging beer and then turning around with a waggling finger to say, “But I never ate pork!” I wonder if Islam wants me. Catholicism didn’t, that was made clear to me very young and it still hurts. Hard to bounce back from that first burn.

I know that Sufism wants me. There is no one that Sufism will turn away.

Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.

It doesn’t matter.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times

Come, yet again, come, come.

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi 

Because I have some OCD tendencies, any religious practice is a potential quagmire. It possesses all the qualities of the perfect OCD trap. Potential benefit, repetition, unspecified obligation. Tricky. Sometimes I have to throw it all off to reboot. But that throws all previous effort and worthiness into doubt again. Except that’s just brain. As the above poem indicates, all effort is adored.

So that is why, a week into Ramadan, I stopped fasting. I gave up the water fast after one day because it was damaging to already compromised systems, but I realised yesterday that I had already descended into the failure-guilt-punishment method of religious observance, which is just, just THE WORST. And not what is intended. And no kind of a way to live. I have a delicate blushing butterfly somewhere flapping around in me. I can’t hit it with sticks or I’ll break it. Zo.

Where does that leave me? How do I progress? Gently. Without planning. Enjoying the feeling of my feet beneath a fiddle.

image

An Attempt

Phone Is Gone

I foolishly left my phone beneath a pillow in a Tennessee motel and now some UNCOUTH INDIVIDUAL has obtained it and sent vile insinuations to a young gentleman acquaintance. He was necessarily confused. If you have a received any vile insinuations, know that though I love you, it is not in that particular fashion. But there is a racially insensitive slob in Tennessee who does love you in that fashion. May it keep you warm at night.

 

If you need my new number, please email me. If you need my email, well, I guess you’re in trouble.

Phone Is Gone

Meat Cake

This post is not, as some of the low minded among you may be thinking, about sex. It is about Kibby! A meat layer cake. One kind of meat, fried with pine nuts, placed between another kind of meat, ground up with grain and spices to make a sort of meat dough. Then you bake it.

Happy Ramadan.

 

Photo on 13-06-16 at 19.55

Meat Cake

Short Answer

Got evicted, not for non-payment, drug use or other sundry sins, but for the mild and inoffensive sin of being a renter.

Lived in back room of friend’s house in the ninth ward. Spent breezy mornings on the levy talking to portly southern men with polarising sunglasses. Spent sweaty evenings holding up bars and getting into dubious conversations with assorted persons.

Drove to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The setting of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry. Duly purchased ice cream from store with disturbing grinning Barney Fife pasted onto plate glass window. Tolerated old time and blue grass fiddle festival for four days. Was possibly hit on by an elderly woman, still not entirely sure about that one. She was wearing pearls. And a tiny hat. She admired my posterior.* Read books by the fence. Declined to pee in a jar. Scowled, loafed, periodically escaped to my car to listen to hip young person music and moodily eat potato chips. Was caught in the rain many. Many. Times.  Failed to get drunk. Failed to offend the morals of anyone, they all being filthier by far than my young self in spite of their upright caucasian middle class appearance. Ate a hamburger in a diner served by two grousing brothers, one fresh from a church choir performance and wearing a tuxedo. Played the cello in the mud. Played the bass in the mud. Played the tenor banjo, guitar, and mandolin. In the mud.

Drove to Asheville. Convalesced due to feminine frailty due to extended periods of human contact. Aaron also convalesced. Masculine frailty. Went to bookstore. Gloated over terrific and varied pile of books like hen over particularly handsome eggs. Carried books around with self like security blanket and/or second grade spelling bee trophy. Ate tacos. Started Ramadan with minimum of hysteria and excellent confident buoyed up feeling. Complained. Broke fast. Sitting here typing to you in telegraphic style.

Further bulletins as warranted.

 

*It has now been established that she was not hitting on me, it is just the way of slightly scoundrely Southern ladies.

Short Answer