Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rocklords

When choosing a career path, I really think I should have gone with being someone who is paid money to rock.


I received a small organ when I was a child, the kind you turned on and it sounded like it was breathing.

My sister put on her leotard and we had a concert.

To get the neighborhood children to come to the gig, I had to give them some of my toys.



It was not long before I realized the organ was limiting my creativity and I took up the guitar.

Many of the chords proved really difficult, like those weird bar chords with names like F#/Bm6, the ones where you are supposed to lay your whole body on the neck of the guitar and play it by uvulating.


Before frustration could overrun me and send me into the arms of the piccolo or jaw harp, I discovered the magic chord: E minor

You only need two fingers. 

And it sounds like sadness and brooding.

E minor was the new soundtrack of my life.


Parents making life so hard? E minor.
School so boring you could scream? E minor.
Girl so pretty but not like you? E minor.
DunDunDun, E minor.

I saw now that I was becoming a person who rocks, but needed accompaniment.


My band consisted of a guy with a disortion pedal and a hatred of healthy hearing, and a girl with a drum set who played Wipeout for her marching band and spent most of the time telling us about how much she liked black guys, because black guys were so funny, and black guys were so laid back, and black guys were so sexy.

We did not really have any songs, it was more like he played loud, she pounded the skins occasionally and talked to black guys on the phone, and I made up lyrics while strumming E minor. 




Somewhere is a cassette tape of our practices and I am certain it would musically destroy you and your family if you heard it.


A friend of ours had a barn he converted into a "hang-out", and he regularly had bands play there.


This was our chance.


On the night of the big show, the girl decided she was bored and did not want to play, and four other guitarists came to jam along.

They all had distortion pedals too.

One actually talented person set up a drum kit.


No one knew the same songs, or really any songs, and I just made up things as I went along.




During a brief pause in all the rock 'n' roll, I could hear someone screaming for us to please stop.


Some of the guitarists got mad at some of the other guitarists, but I think it was just because there was not enough room for all those guitar necks to swing dramatically around and still leave space for the one fan who was moshing by himself.


The sight of a 14-year-old skater kid repeatedly moshing himself like that made me sad and uncomfortable, and I began to retreat into that jaded place so many rock stars find themselves in, when they have seen too much of the road, done too many of the drugs, and French kissed with too many of the groupies.


My decision was made for me though, when my guitarist decided he could actually sing and write better songs than me, and he and the little drummer girl soldiered on without their frontman.


I laid E minor down, certain to never pick it up again.


But Fate and the Lords of Rock with me had not finished.

Many years later, a friend of mine had a giant party to celebrate his graduation from college.


His mass of relatives from all over the country were there, as well as many friends, classmates, and well-wishers.


A band had played earlier in the night, leaving their equipment set up.


Spirits were soaring as high as alcohol would allow, and at one point the graduate's father asked if anyone knew any Bob Dylan songs.


I staggered drunkenly to the microphone, slung a guitar over my shoulder, and began to apply full body bar chords to the strings while audibly trying to recall the first line of "Lay, Lady, Lay".


Not sure how familiar you are with Bob Dylan's catalogue of music, but when someone at a rocking high energy party of young and old people dancing together and getting smashed asks for a Dylan song, I cannot, under any circumstance, imagine they had "Lay, Lady Lay" in mind.


The song does not say good times, it does not say fun party, it does not say graduation.

It says come have sad, introspective sex with a guy wearing dirty clothes in his big brass bed. He is pretty tired from working all day picking beans or something and really what he wants right now is to have some sex and then fall asleep.


From what I recall of the looks on people's faces, I would say the overall sentiment was, "God is pooping on us."


My friend's father approached me tentatively, wanting me to please stop but not wanting to say it. 


A small crowd of little children stood near by as I said loudly into the microphone, "Sorry, Mr.D, I'm too fucked up to play." Oh God in heaven I might have even begun to cry a little.


He patted my back, his other hand prying the microphone from me.


"It's okay," he said, his face a mix of terrific pity and excruciating awkwardness, which is one of the worst facial expressions a human being has ever produced, "that song might not have been the best choice anyways."

It wasn't, I screamed inside, it was a terrible choice, a terrifyingly beautiful choice dammit, and I ran from the party and hid myself in the woods.


Time passed.


I grew older, wiser, my finger tips lost their guitar calluses and became baby soft again.


My job at a group home for developmentally disabled young men consumed much of my time, and we were planning our Christmas play.


I had just fit one of my Fetal Alcohol actors with his Superman suit, only to step back and see with dismay that the tightness of the pants ineffectively hid his thunder. 


Christmas could not be allowed to be ruined by a pornographic Superman, and I ordered all the players off the stage in frustration.


There I was, alone, stage lights upon me, a microphone nearby, and someone, some angel, had left an acoustic guitar in a corner.


I was fifteen again, I had my hair and my earrings back, I no longer needed my bra or my tummy cinch.

My audience was a group of developmentally disabled boys milling about, some humming and rocking, one digging deeply into the back of his diaper, but they were my audience. 

I had them.

They were my slaves, and I was their god, their god of rock.

I picked up the guitar, approached the mic, and hit that first E minor.

As one, they looked up to the stage, their eyes wide, never having witnessed such beauty, such mystery.

What tune shall the Piper pipe at the Gates of God?

What melody cut from lightning, forged from the fires of inner earth?

All the world hesitated to breath.

I opened my mouth to sing.


"If....you're...happy and you know it, clap your hands!" clap-clap
"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" clap-clap

My fans erupted in cheers.

They clapped, they laughed, they begged for more, and at last I felt the impossible adrenaline of the performance explode within me. 

The moment in life when all the pieces fall together and you see exactly who you are and what your are meant to do had come.

Ask me then.

Ask me who I am, but then jump back ten feet when the answer singes your face.

Who am I??

I AM GWEENBRICK, AND I ROCK THE WORLD OF SPECIAL NEEDS.



37 comments:

  1. Awesome story. It is great to be appreciated, regardless of audience. Keep on rocking.

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  2. My face really is singed. That was powerful.

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  3. This blog makes me happy, goddammit.

    *Claps*

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  4. I also had a similar moment on the stage when I was a high school English teacher in a catholic school, lip syncing Tony Basil's "Hey Mickey" in a cheerleading uniform.

    Long story and I can't draw.

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  5. Oh, E-minor is my life. I just never knew what it was called before, because I was more the dancing-in-the-leotard type. You think it is humiliating to be told not to play your music and sing anymore? Try being told NOT TO DANCE ANYMORE. There is no greater agony. Dancing does not assault the crucial sense of hearing, dancing only involves seeing. One could, in theory, avert one's eyes or at the very least, cover one's eyes. No. If one is a member of MOV's uncultured and unappreciative and totally-oblivious-to-obvious-talent-and-certain-future-with-the-New-York-City-Ballet, then one would boo and make negative remarks and possibly throw things, things like sofa cushions to make the dancing stop.

    I showed them all though. I became a sales associate at a high-end kitchen store. So, the moral of the story is: follow your dreams.

    best,
    MOV

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  6. Rock on!!! Awesome post my friend! Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time getting the "pornographic Superman" image outta my head...

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  7. Your post reminds me of the time I was at a Christmas party and I was the belle of the ball with every guy there asking me to dance. Of course they were all my clients and you get the jist...

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  8. This reminded me of the many hours I spent listening to my friend's garage band play I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight. It was the only song they knew, otherwise they just 'jammed'. Which is garage band for 'sucked'. You are a man who knows his audience. Well done.

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  10. If you weren't married and I wasn't married and it was legal, I would totally marry you.

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  11. If you move those two same fingers down one string each, and use your thumb to mute the top string, it's like an "A". Then you'd sound way Bob Dylany bouncing back and forth between them. ;)

    Nice post.

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  12. I laughed out loud at the pic of you playing F#/Bm6. I've never been able to master that one either.

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  13. LOL

    I would actually pay to hear that tape.
    When I was at school I took up the violin. It was actually a ploy, since the lesson time meant I missed double maths on a Weds afternoon (funny the things you remember huh).
    As a result of my practising at home (well if I wanted to keep out of maths I had to make some effort) the violin became known as the vile din in my house.

    So...if you ever feel the need for a string section I'm here...waiting. And the only tune I ever really managed (and can still remember) was twinkle twinkle little star - I'm sure the LD kinds would love it.
    I can also play the recorder so could double up a woodwind section too ?

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  14. Please tell me "Fate and the Lords of Rock" is your new band name... The hokey pokey has never been rocked so hard.

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  15. My youngest sons started a band when they were 8 and 9, respectively. They made drums out of coffee cans with paper on top and wrote songs, all to the tune of the theme song to Growing Pains. It was beautiful to behold.

    Now when they get together and play guitar and sing, they inevitably sing that song by Jewel, where she made her eggs and her pancakes, too...

    They are 22 and 23, both Marines.

    And they sing Jewel.

    I'm pretty sure I failed them somewhere.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

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  16. I am very certain that your fourth picture looks eXactly like R.E.M., so you know what that means don't you?

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  17. You asked the question, "If....you're...happy and you know it, clap your hands!" ... and I did.

    And I laughed.

    Thank you.

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  18. I know damn well that that song also has a super happy D chord as well. Maybe even a high-self esteem yet understatedly sexy C chord.

    We should totes jam sometime. All the songs I have written are about boys who hate their parents and soap, so E minor is legit.

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  19. Brett-thanks! I agree

    The Weed-glad you liked it

    Mandy-cheer leader uniform? Hey Mickey? Yay! How delightfully embarrassing

    MOV-awesome! that would be much more hurtful, I agree

    C-oh man, I have been the belle of the ball too. Its not good.

    Kelly-I used to love that song. Thanks.

    Staje-I am flattered! But I am a pretty rotten spouse.....

    Julie-oh yes I am

    DPLblog-I never mastered that whole muting thing, I always ended up smashing too many strings

    Stephanie-thanks! its very tricky, you really have to sink your teeth into the guitar neck

    dirtycowgirl-I love that vile din joke. You can be in my band, but I need to look up the chords for twinkle little star-if there is an eminor, we are golden

    lilkitten-hey good idea, we could do gigs on sesame street

    Killer Cupcake-I think the failure began when you overexposed them to Growing Pains at a young age. That show was a corrosive force in American homes

    esbboston-glad you liked it, but the REM line puzzled me

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  20. Nothing like being at home alone but laughing out loud at your blog. Love it!

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  21. Mary-boys who hate their parents and soap? In the same song? I want to hear it. Video, please.

    Lady in Red-thank you so much!

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  23. Since I was clearly not the girl in the leotard, this reminded me of my first experiences playing the piano. I even got to have a gig (with other children performing too) and played a horrible wasted-rocker-like version of Honesty, by Billy Joel with a girl playing an electric guitar and a boy playing the drums... How bizarre is that? I think I'm still not over it.

    Your blog's awesome! Love it!

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  24. WOoohoo!! I wish I knew how to play an instrument. Le sigh. I'm not picky, even the triangle would do.

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  25. You should learn Eye of the Tiger and Who Let the Dogs Out and then you would really be in business

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  26. The R.E.M. Line pizzled you? There are three people in your picture, a guitarist, a singer, and a drummer, it doesn't get any more REMmer than that. Wow, looooook at that reallr cool word I just created. REMmer, it'zsymmetrical, loverly, oh joy iz mine, happy dance would happen about right now but I am horizontal typing and my left arm is sore from typing by fingers two on this iPad that is almost outta juice here in the cold dark of the living room couch.

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  28. I just read that your site is for big tall beatiful people, sigh. As a big short ugly person I feel two thirds left out, abandoned. I must leave now, to dwown'd my sorrows width a powerfool beverage, a beverage with leverage. No, its not what you were thinking, its morning time, I'm coffeeing.

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  29. this.is.me.-thanks for reading! I really appreciate it

    Gia-i think you have to be an existentialist to play the triangle well

    C-oh my gosh, I have been to so many special ed dances where who let the dogs out was the grand finale

    nellievaughn-thank you! You are too nice. I would jam with you, I guess, but are you going to talk about black guys the WHOLE time? That would kind of be a drag

    esbboston-I know! I keep getting that big and tall dating spam. Its kind of funny, but also pretty annoying. I am sorry you are a big short ugly person, but I kind of am too, so its every fat dwarf for himself out here

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  30. This was a fantastic read. Your life is amazingly entertaining and I'm going to have to fight Staje for you if the opportunity presents itself.

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  31. Knight-thanks! Um....that is a nice thing to say, but man, would you be disappointed. Soooooo disappointed.

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  32. At least you still get to rock...sometimes...in a small way...with a somewhat appreciative audience...on a good day...Um...Hey! You are wearing pants! That's good!

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  33. I would be unable to marry you because I am not a pastor, preacher, justice of the peace, or the capitan of a ship.

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  34. There is nothing quite like a handicaptive audience, now is there? We are all rock stars in someone's eyes. Just ask my dog.

    Great story.

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  35. I also received a small organ as a child. So embarrassing.

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  36. I loved the bit about bar chords.
    It's pretty much like acrobatics...

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