Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Learning No Lesson

It was seven degrees when I woke up this morning.  Seven.  The good news is that it felt like eight.  I walked unsteadily down the icy driveway to get the paper which announced “Cold Spell Will Last Forever”.  This is no way to live your life.  I have heard with some reasonable amount of confirmation that many citizens of our great nation live in climates where they see the sun on a daily basis, the temperature is above single digits, and the rivers run filled with lager.  (This may not all be true as the Internet is also filled with wild lies like Polynesian West Coast girlfriends.)

 Each year I find myself sitting in the dark clouds and freezing climate vowing to escape.  Then Spring arrives, baseball season starts, and I forget about the previous five months.  It’s odd how I learn no lesson.  I have repeated this same cycle twenty something times.  Every January/February I am willing to do most anything to escape.  Yet, here it sit again.  I am a man with marketable talents and the means to live almost anywhere I want.  I probably can’t pull off an oceanside villa in La Jolla CA, but there is no reason why I can’t have a modest place within walking distance of warm ocean waters and consistent sunshine.  I could be strolling around Rome right now dodging some fucking kid on a moped, but instead I am finding frozen weaves in inner city snowbanks.  It’s madness.  Complete madness.

If I am honest with myself, it has always been this way.  Quick example...  A million years ago I had this girlfriend that was really bad news.  I should have known when a .38 snub nose pistol fell out of her purse without explanation early in our relationship that this might not be the best match for my particular female criterion.  I like a woman that is sexy, confident, successful and sophisticated, not one that resembles a B-movie private detective.  Call me traditional…  The version of her life she shared with me was a flimsy fiction of strung together hard luck stories and outright lies.  A man in his early twenties is willing to forgive a number of things from a pretty girl that is willing to do certain other things.  After you’ve done these things a few times, you begin to weigh the pros and cons of being with a fictional character.  I mean, at least tell the truth once in awhile to make it interesting.  Still, I soldiered on with the hope that things would work out.  I learned no lesson. 

In most cases things are the way they are.  There aren't that many mysteries below the surface.  You know how at your job, there will be a meeting where it is announced "From now on things are going to be different!  We are now going to stop doing the same fucked up things we always do and will henceforth begin a New Age of Enlightenment!  All the things we used to do are OVER!  Now we will begin with New Ideas For A New Tomorrow!"  Then 20 minutes after that meeting, everyone goes back to doing the same fucked up shit they were doing before, right?  Does that mean I will always be trapped in this icicle jail?  Will I never find the escape map to where I become one of the smiling people I see on TV doing things I don't do like rollerblading, windsurfing, and flying kites?  Maybe I'm just not being realistic about myself.  I must like the unpleasantness of the whole thing, like some kind of weather S&M pain fetish freak.  Perhaps I just have the constitution to absorb this horrific weather for the most part, and I need to try to come up with a short term working solution... 

 There are people that enjoy winter sports.  They like skiing.  They like ice fishing.  I even see people running outside today.  These are people we refer to as "goddamn fools".  There is no reason to be outside in arctic temperatures.  There is no fun to be had out there.  Bring on this much hyped global warming.  I live in Cleveland.  Maybe the climate of North Carolina will come to me.  Sure, most coastal cities will be washed away in horrible megastorms at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, but if that is the price that must be paid for me to enjoy myself in my home town in February, so it must be.  Sure, I could move, but who has the time to pretend to be someone else in a job interview?  Who has the time to conceal obvious major structural flaws in their home in order to sell it to some sucker?  Plus, who knows what city is about to be wiped off the map due to massive climate change?  Those guys at Stage Farm aren't going to tell you.  They keep that information close to the vest brother.

 It is obvious that I need to get away from this ridiculous situation in this Ice Age Hellhole, if only for the chance to re-charge.  What's it been?  Three weeks since I have been in a civilized climate?  How can a man continue in such deplorable conditions?  It is time for a poorly researched escape.

Before I can go anywhere though, let me update you on the ill advised descent into the rabbit hole that is The Johnny Cash Project.  Disc 39 is Johnny Cash Sings Precious Memories.  Why Johnny Cash decided to record an album in 1974 that sounded like it was produced by June and Ward Cleaver in 1959 I cannot say.  Think of the worst combination of early 1970s instrumentation with strings, female backup vocals, and horns mixed with cliche church songs that even bee-hived choir directors would dismiss as "Nah, let's not do that.  That's too sappy.".  This album is not for you.  Do not even stare at it with your naked eyes as you may become sucked into the void by staring at the grade school art contest artwork they used for the cover.  This is awful.  (see cover below) Disc 40 John R. Cash is some sort of attempt to make Johnny Cash sound current in 1974.  Please note, by the word "current" I mean that he sounds like he is backed up by England Dan and John Ford Coley.  (How about that for an oblique 70s music reference?)  If you wanted to know what Johnny Cash would sound like fronting Firefall, this record is for you.  It has the worst version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" I have ever heard.  The arrangement is so misguided, it is worth hearing once so you can sit open mouthed in amazement and say "Who thought of that?".  There is a pretty good version of David Allen Coe's "Cocaine Carolina" though.  Clip the single off of itunes.  Disc 41 Look At Them Beans is worth listening to so you can wonder how the truly awful song "Look At Them Beans" ever charted on the country charts.  Mainstream country music fans are not exactly the biggest bastions of substantial songwriting, so I guess they must have liked hearing Johnny Cash yelling out "Look At Them Beans!!!!".  This is another pretty bad album, although the cover is interesting to look at and wonder how it got approved by anyone with even a lick of sense.  Disc 42 Strawberry Cake is a live show in England that is probably pretty representative of his live show in the mid 70s.  Johnny does some old war horse songs, tells some stories, plays a few new ones, tells some more stories, has June sing one, and then drives off with a sack of money.  It's actually pretty good, but all the other live records are better.  "I Still Miss Someone" makes its 33rd appearance on a Johnny Cash record in case you don't have any of the other 32 versions.  Disc 43 One Piece At A Time is a pretty good one.  The production is much more of the traditional "Johnny Cash sound".  "One Piece At A Time" is an essential Cash single.  "Committed To Parkview" is a nice bleak song about rehab.  "Sold Out of Flagpoles" is a fun throwaway.  After what can only be called "A Dark Fucking Period", Cash is starting to deliver the goods again.  I messed up and listened to one out of order, so that puts us to Disc 45.  Disc 45 The Rambler is an interesting idea of a radio play with a running story between songs that loosely fit into the narrative.  The basic idea is that Cash is a man that can't get a woman out of his mind, so he is going to ramble across the country until he either forgets her or meets another one.  Being in motion is better than being stuck with just himself and the thoughts that haunt him.  "Hit The Road and Go" is classic Cash.  So is "After the Ball".  "A Wednesday Car" is a good nod to the working man in the auto industry.  I don't know if you can listen to the sometimes clumsy dialogue over and over, but one time around was pretty interesting.  One thing you have to say about Cash.  After at this point 20+ years of recording, he is still pushing himself artistically and taking risks.  While not everything on this is a home run, I love that he went to the plate and took some big cuts.  Bravo.  



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