March of the Hierophants

Dear Reader, I hope that you have your thinking cap on, because we have to figure this shit out together. So sit back in your weird ‘70s egg chair, pour yourself a vodka and blood orange spritzer thing, take a bite out of a 7 grain toast with raspberry jam on it, and check the creases in your slacks because now it’s time to get down to business.

I started this online publication when I was living in Budapest, trying to figure out what the shit I was doing, and when I wrote stuff for The Little Black Egg, I was reaching out across the ocean, nay, across the world, trying to connect to fellow bad-smelling nerds all over the place who might be vibrating at the same wavelength. Now that I’ve been back in New York, my zone of operation, it’s a different story. We here at The Little Black Egg find that we’re shrinking backwards, being inexorably drawn away from The Little Black Egg and into the void.

Thusly, Dear Reader, we here at The Little Black Egg are marshaling our forces, unleashing our hounds, sounding the trumpet, and throwing the severed body parts of the Egyptian god Set into the sun. It’s time to annihilate the outer cosmos where the Elder Gods lurk; to smash the Skriker, portent of evil, ancient and damaged, in the face with brass knuckles; to heave a copy of Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood at a scurrying cockroach; and to generally get it together.

We've always hated solitude.

The Utter Failure Which Was Responsible For Recent Radio Silence
Most recently, I tried and failed to put together an article about three awesome Jewish/Guido rock bands from NY: ManOwar, The Dicators, and Twisted Sister. The idea being that these groups sort of represented the Jungian take on the ages of man. Early in life, during The Dictators phase, man is turned inward, concerned with simply satisfying base desires, selfish, really. Then, as an adult, man turns outwards into the world (the ManOwar stage), conquering life and showing no mercy. This is the stage when life is lived. Then, man turns inwards again, Twisted Sister-style, in a garish adult pantomime of youth, trying to once again address the needs of one’s Self.

Working on this article was like dropping quarters into a fucked pinball machine that’s permanently on TILT. I couldn't finish it. That article was dead as dead.

I struggle with my failures. I crawled around on the floor, moaning and frothing.

Slightly Less Anonymous
Just so it’s clear, I am not a very cool guy, you know? This can be surmised from the fact that I have a blog, in the first place. But I am the kind of guy who eats toast and peruses the Chicago Manual of Style whilst listening to (but not watching) a DVD of The Fly with Jeff Goldblum. (Fuckin’ Brudlefly, amiright?!) I go to the grocery store and think to myself, “do I have what it takes to invent an awesome sandwich?” I drink seltzer a lot, alone. In the dark.

When I go see music, 9 times out of 10 I do so by myself, hanging out in the back, shifting from foot to foot on account of the fact that I can’t stand still ever. What tempts a man to lurk in the corner of a dank shithole, watching a bunch of jerks feeding back onstage? The answer can be traced, I guess, to early isolation, and several fortuitous events that shaped my early childhood:

  1. My brother Scott making me a Beatles mixtape
  2. My brother Scott making a second mixtape with songs like “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” and “Quinn the Eskimo” on it
  3. My parents buying me Heartland Music’s “Fun Rock” 4 LP set after weeks of agonized begging on my part
  4. Finding my brother Scott’s fucked up, zillionth generation tape of The Rolling Stones’ “Get Your Ya-Yas Out”
  5. Discovering the Beach Boys
  6. Seeing my cousin Wayne, who was a punk
My cousin Wayne was a punk rocker from Long Island in the mid-80s. He saw the Circle Jerks, the DKs, the Ramones, Marginal Man, all that stuff. Just seeing my cousin was totally off the hook for me as a kid. It was like seeing a superhero—he looked like a cross between Wattie from the Exploited and Lord Humongous from Mad Max: The Road Warrior. Orange mohawk, leather jacket with studs, fingerless leather gloves, chains, engineer boots, the whole thing. He looked like an extra from Death Wish 3 Nowadays, he and his wife Jen (another former punkeroo) have an awesome kid and live the high life in the country where they are visited by loads of cool friends and farm chickens and drink cocktails and live a very solid life.

I Was a Teenage Viscount
Here’s the other thing to understand: I grew up in a very, very small town, pre-Internet, where mountains blocked most outside radio reception, pre-satellite TV, a town so small that no cable companies would run a line to it because it wouldn’t be profitable enough, not even if everyone in town subscribed. It used to be hard to acquire media, is what I'm saying. I hungered for RNR and punk rock, but I had little exposure to it. I used to put stickers on my face, like those star stickers that teachers put on test papers. I’d put these stars all over my face and I’d tell everyone in the grocery store I was a punk rocker and that I knew how to breakdance. Then I’d spend my allowance on a Charleston Chew and pretend to fight off ninjas with it. I was one of the weirdest, dorkiest little kids in this dairy farming community.

It wasn’t until I was older, a social retard wearing weird blue slacks and buying LPs, that I figured out which way was up, and finally actually heard punk rock, which didn’t disappoint. Actually, some of it really did disappoint, especially some of the goofier British stuff.

Still, each album acquired made me feel that I was ascending to an elevated realm of greater perspective, a perch from when I could see the history of the world more clearly, like the member of a royal court.

Allies in the Final Conflict
Dear Reader, I ask you—who among has not had close friends who give them important shit to listen to? Me, I have a couple. First off, there’s my wife, who I pretended to like jazz for, and then actually ended up liking jazz—a proposition that initially seemed unphysiologically fucking impossible. Then I got my friend Matty, my friend Tom, some other people, and most recently, my friend Nate. The people you know are windows into other dimensions.

Nate (I won’t use his last name) is the main dude of a jazz combo called The Nathan Clevenger Group. They are a really good band. Everyone in the band are titans of music. Imagine the Founding Fathers descending from Mount Olympus with tentacle arms gripping inky quills, preparing to legislate. Actually, that's a little off. It's more like this: have you ever gotten a foreign film that maybe you weren’t sure about, but then it ripped your face off, and it was the coolest thing you ever saw, and it somehow synthesized straight-up literary frumpiness with avant-gardeness and unexpected twists and you were at the edge of your seat the whole time but then, afterwards, you couldn’t find anyone else who had ever heard of it? That’s pretty much what their music is like.

Anyway, it was my birthday recently, and Nate gave me a gift certificate to Amoeba Recrods in the Bay Area. This was really cool, since I am poor (hey, anyone need a freelance writer/editor/copy editor?), and I haven’t been able to buy records in a long while.

So’s I had this gift certificate and I bought a clean copy of Billion Dollar Babies by Alice Cooper and 333 by the A Frames, my favorite ever band (in the last 10 years). I am still aglow from Nate’s act of kindness. So much of my music time is spent turned towards magazines and music blogs, trying to peer through the general blur and discern where the music is that will keep me from dematerializing. To be given this music as a gift is miraculous.

And Scene
One of the reasons that The Little Black Egg isn't all full of music reviews is because I’m not a scientist, and I can’t analyze anything objectively. I hurtle through life, an itchy bundle of anxious flesh, happy for the few moments where the world seems even vaguely human. I don't understand anything. The greatest illuminations were passed to me by others, fragments of sound and information that brought the world into focus.

It's hard for me to see clearly because I stand so close to everything. I have hope for us in the future, though, Dear Reader. I really do. Together, we have the technology.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Rick-- every once in a while I stop by here to check out what you've been doing and I am never disappointed. It may sound like sycophancy every time I say this, but I truly admire, respect, and look up to you as a writer, for your wit and style, but also because you always make me want to write, and to do so at a more honest and higher level than I've been doing.