The End of the World
Some big news came out of Georgia yesterday. And I know it's going to be controversial. No, I'm not talking about Troy Davis. REM broke up. I have always maintained that REM is the most important rock 'n' roll band after the Beatles. Without the Beatles, you have no Stones, no Who, no Doors (which would actually be a good thing), but without REM, you have no Nirvana, No Pearl Jam (again, a good thing), none of the alternative music that so saturates the airwaves these days that it has to now be called mainstream. If I could draw a rock family tree I'd show how every band descends from virtually two parents, the Beatles and REM. (I drew this tree once when I was very high and it made a lot of sense but I lost the picture.)
You have to remember when REM came around, we were mired in a dark, awful era in rock 'n' roll (not all that different than when Nirvana burst on the scene a decade later, but here the egg comes first). At the time it was all Rod Stewart "Tonight's the Night" and adult contemporary; and the "Escape (Pina Colada Song)" is cool now, because it's camp, but there was a time when it wasn't camp. That shit was serious.
There are holes in this theory, I know, and there are about a million bands you can name, mostly punk and metal (and I guess hip-hop, but I don't anything about the history of that shit), and I suppose Motown, which probably has its lineage stemming from soul, and there are all those ska and reggae subsets, dub and the like, but I ain't talking about that. I'm talking rock 'n' roll bands. The Beatles paved the way in the '60s, and REM picked up the torch in the '80s, mixed metaphors be damned, with a focus on solid pop songwriting, tight 4-minute rock songs written by the band and not some outside hit-maker that straddled that line between appealing to the masses while remaining cool enough for those of us who really get it. Not easy to do. REM gave me the Replacements and Gaslight Anthem. And for that, I'll be forever thankful.
And as long as we're going with controversy, might as well talk about Troy Davis. Not the particulars, of course. 'Cause we don't do that here. I'm not getting into innocence or guilt, travesty or justice. But I read the comment sections in various posts on the story yesterday, and, man, it was fucking vicious. There was a message from Roger Waters on Facebook, a left-of-center though pretty generic sentiment about the "failure of the American justice system," and the things people wrote on his...wall (God, I love a good early morning double entendre) reminded me of my young, Republican self in the 1980s. I used to have this rant (I've always had a rant, left or right) about how if John Lennon didn't like American politics, he should go back to England. I must've overlooked the whole "he's dead" part. There were a lot of comments telling Roger to shut the fuck up and go back to England and make music (which everyone was careful to mention they still loved, on the off-chance Roger himself is going to read Facebook comments, reach out and offer free tickets to someone with the courage to speak his own mind, even if the view is contrary).
I'm not picking a side (really, Duane, I'm not). OK. I'm picking a side. But I've already picked it. I've made no secret that I am bleeding heart liberal (radical, actually), and with that comes all the usual view, against the death penalty, etc. But I am not talking about this individual case, and I don't use this blog as a pulpit. I don't know jack about the case, honestly. And when I thought about brushing up, getting up to speed, and another analogy that I'm too lazy to think up, I noticed my prejudice. When the search engine offered the feed, I immediately went to the ACLU's version. Just like another might go to FOX. And we already know this. We seek out the versions that back-up our already established points of view. So there is no learning, no discourse, no growth. I've got my opinion, you got yours, and neither of us is changing. So why the fuck are we going to talk about it?
Been asked to write a non-fiction story for a Florida-based literary magazine, the rub being that the story needs to be Florida-related. Only two things happened to me during my brief three years in FLA (that seemed to last forever). The Divorce. The Accident. Detailing five months of an uneventful, ill-fated marriage doesn't exactly get me excited, so I doubt it would get anyone else. I'm not sure how many pages I could wring out of it, anyway. Made a bad choice, should've known better, and that's that. The accident, though...
I've been trying to write that story for a while. I mean, there are two defining events in my life. The first, of course, being my drug addiction. The second is the motorcycle crash that damn near killed me and left me with a body full of broken parts and an arthritic hip condition that seems to get worse by the day. It's got all the elements for a compelling story: life and death, love and heartbreak, fall and redemption. Problem is, just not sure how to tell it. Which is weird because I've worked with far less before.
There's got to be way to make this fresh. I've tried starting en medias res, which is how I began "Laying Down the Bike," my first Lip Service story down in Miami. I recently re-read that story, because it was never actually published, but it sucks. Overly dramatic and heavy-handed, not a hint of humor. The story itself isn't funny, I know, but there needs to be some levity, some lightness. I am no Andrea Askowitz, but I have my moments of The Funny. I've written about this disconnect often, between who I am and my writing voice, a gulf I hoped this blog would broach. Maybe it has. It's certainly has helped me get some stories published. I guess I haven't really written much non-fiction outside of this thing.
And Holden is still sick and screaming, and my wife is pissed that I am writing this, which means I don't need to find an applicable conclusion to wrap this all up and tie it together. See? That's me, always able to find the silver lining...