Monday, May 2, 2011

Joel [edited slightly]

My bass/harp playing NC friend expressed that he felt insulted that I did not list him here by name. He will soon be sorry, after I tell his story, and include insight and assessment.

One thing I decided not long ago: don't lose contact with the long time real sincere friendships. Re-connect and keep them alive. This Tour will include some of that. This is one of those. Few people have the ability to argue with my brilliant ideas and make me think about them. Joel would argue no matter what I said, just to see how wound up I'd get over it.

If you see a UFO go flying to moon next month, you will know Joel and I had a discussion in NC. He'll be the UFO.

I should point out that I met Joel at the wild and crazy jam bar, Somewhere Else Tavern in Greensboro back when the music scene was quite remarkable there. This was in the early '80s. Well over 25 years ago. Seems it was right about the time I had half way broken the ice and was somewhat the harp player of choice at the jams. At least I was rarely getting pushed off the stage by the in crowd.

Who knows, I was on a fast downhill spiral in other ways. Joel was the first straight forward honest person I'd talked to in ages, and he wanted to break into the jam clique. He asked the right guy for advice. I was always on the side of the new person who wanted to play, if they had any soul. And he did. We had many adventures related to jams and playing with bands around the area after that.

What we have in common is that we have, in our own ways, spent far too much energy tilting at windmills, both figuratively and literally. I can't prove the literal part, but I do suspect it. We both have fairly strong intellects, and find ourselves puzzled with the ways of the world at times. Misfits, and at the same time no real good reason for that. I've come to terms with that more than in the past. He's probably still in the dark. I said that just out of spite.

As a matter of fact he blames me for once placing us in a situation in which the odds were 18 plus a large, seasoned 175 pound female bartender vs the two of us. He claims it was his extraordinarily rigid code of honor and loyalty which prevented him from walking away or offering to help them thrash or/and maim me. He did comment at the time that if we escaped alive he was going to beat me up or some such nonsense.

In the end, we not only got out alive but got offered a regular gig playing there. We declined. I had experienced as much as I could take of the place. Besides, when you sort of challenge that many people, it is best to avoid doing it again. It often works the first time because it looks so stupid and they wonder if you are pitifully dimwitted, or maybe you know something and could really do a number on them using powers they can only imagine.

It is a one time only tactic at any given venue, and always a gamble. I've only been moved to engage in such foolishness while heavily under the influence, so I believe my days of challenging large groups to a duel have passed.

Anyway, Joel's integrity and loyalty are legendary. He's also somewhat of a badass, but not one to go around fighting. He has that Clint Eastwood thing going. If he didn't take himself too serious to act, I would think he could have done well in movies.

But that is the real crux of the matter. He thinks like I used too, that unless I made a notable mark on the world, and people knew about it, that my life would be a waste. That would be nice, I guess, but I no longer see that as the point.

I'm not sure Joel has let that perspective go. That is not to say that if I scheme a way to do some things that I have long dreamed, that I would not go for it. But most important is that I learn to do what is in front of me, treat people well, and put more positive out there than negative. I think if more people benefit than not from crossing my path, I've done OK.

My biggest problem is just taking care of my basic life. Plus there are some other uncertainties, but I have faith it will be OK. It is not too bad now.

I was thinking about the number of betrayals vs the number of people who have proven loyal throughout. I realized that I could probably list a huge number of betrayals of one sort or another, but I also realized I don't tend to think of those as often. Many are pretty much forgotten. I have to search my mind to find them. I'm glad of that.

When I think of the number of really good friends who would not throw me under the bus, I realize that there are more than I may even deserve. Considering that Joel has had to go out of his way more than once in the past, at crucial times, I have no idea why he remains a friend. Maybe I did not put his life in jeopardy that much.

I did do the driving sometimes and I was still drinking--a lot--so I guess he is lucky he survived. I may have never made it out of NC the first time, on my journey to live without alcohol had he not come over and forced me to get packed up. Actually he did a lot of the packing and that forced me to participate. He would have thrown it all out if I didn't man up.

So now, my goal is to help him step back in some way, forget what you can't change, and see how to work with what comes in. Everyone can't have the big Hawaiian waves, but they do find some they can ride, if they pay attention. Nifty metaphor, no?

Anyhow, it always pissed me off that if I was wiped out or whatever he'd blame it on the fact that I am not, and have never been a carnivore. He's one of those who can't let it go that I don't eat meat. Don't care what he eats, and if you count instances of being sick, I know he has more colds, flu etc than I. Most people do. I doubt diet is the reason, but the point is, who cares what I eat as long as I don't cook you or your belongings?

Joel was also there to help me move P and K in when I returned to NC, and that was a mess. She brought everything I specially asked to be left in the garage behind my mother's house, and she arrived with less than a team player, cheerful attitude. Lesson learned: maybe the child is great, but you might do yourself in playing hero if mom just wants the Jerry Springer show lifestyle.

OK. Deep down I knew it, but I thought there was a chance it would work. Joel knew it was hopeless but didn't push the point or even bring it up, I don't think. I had things to move and squeeze into a tiny upstairs apartment and he appeared to help because it was needed.

He also let me know before I stopped drinking that I'd lost my pride and self respect. I recall it clearly. That actually helped me finally give up and change.

So, as big of an egomaniac and whatnot as he is, I expect to see some places in NC that he insists I see. And he wants to personally introduce me to the places. I wonder if he'll round up some dancing girls for the occasion? I doubt and that is so politically incorrect. I guess we can rule out members of NOW and many other groups, after such a statement.

Anyway, Joel is a good harp player. I may have taught him cross harp and how to play the high end. He got me a little studio gig when I was up there with P and K. I'm more the slow simple rhythm type. He's like Mr Funky on bass, like Jocko and Stanley Clarke or whoever. Lots of slapping and complicated beats. Very complex, actually. He could do some stuff on harp that I'm not so sure I can do as well. I'm glad he has put more time into bass over the years.

I think the thing is-I like people but am not too comfortable around them very long. I am comfortable with short interaction then a bunch of solitary. It is kind of odd I guess because I like people more than most people do. And I do like it if a group I know well is together having a good time. But I doubt most of my friends would get along with one another. That is a bitch.

Possibly I have a compulsion to run if I get too included in people's lives. I good for watching pets, helping move, etc., but something seems to physically force me to keep it limited. Out here I forced myself out of that a time or two, but there was usually a project or something which served as excuse. I never quite realized this was guiding me so much until now.

I'm going to see if Joel will go chase the bears off my vertical plot of land in the NC mountains. If they eat him, I'll know not to hang out up there.

Neither of us drink now, which is a good thing for America and the universe. Well I don't, and guess he doesn't. No. That would be dumb and he ain't dumb.

Well, this did not really do Mr Ego justice, but I did mention him by name and threw in a few compliments. You have to be very careful with some people because praise so quickly goes to their head. I am not like that, of course. I am only made better by praise and it should be lavished on me thickly at all times.

Joel, on the other hand,...

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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