FULL BLEED: PLAINSONG


Oh, you already know what song I'm working off of. You can hear it in your heads right now, cathedral reverb, smashing drums and veil after veil of keyboard drones like the skin of the universe being peeled off layer by layer. It opens up DISINTEGRATION and is the perfect place to start talking about 1990.

I know. DISINTEGRATION came out in 1989. But I didn't put down money for it until the springtime of 1990, when everything was falling apart. Sure, I'd heard "Fascination Street" a bunch, as well as the singles that were getting play on 91X, which was my radio station of choice back then, though I'd mostly transitioned to CD from tapes. Yeah, see, the house that I grew up in was nestled against a hill. I mean, right next to. The sun went behind it a couple hours before it actually went down, so it felt like I was always in shadow. Worked out okay. But the upshot of that was that I couldn't get FM signal from Los Angeles stations. AM, sure. Listened to KFI 640 when they were basically a pop station from the late seventies on.

So I came up listening to 91X and not KROQ. I suppose if I knew what I was missing, I'd have been mad. But it's not like I was staying up to listen to Rodney on the ROQ, which I kinda wish I'd done now.

So, yeah, 1990. Everything falling apart. Why? Oh, because I was leaving school. It was probably overdue, but I'd managed to work a fifth year in on account of getting not one but two valuable degrees. It's true. English Literature and Social Sciences. Humanities and theoretical soft science. Perfect if you want to continue being an academic or get an office job. Or write, I suppose.

Not that said path was expected of me by anyone but me. My parents were both writers, both successful, perhaps even generously so, with contracts that seem absurdly grand in today's world. But writing in the eighties and into the nineties bears absolutely no resemblance to writing in the world of today. No ebooks, no internet, no Amazon, a vast array of booksellers and relatively healthy local libraries, no to mention a vastly reduced variety of time-sink entertainments (such as blogging, to name one.) Of course, I wanted to write, and yeah, having the kind of success that my parents had, that'd be pretty goddamn nice too.

Anyways, back to DISINTEGRATION. I listened to it an awful lot in the springtime and run-up to graduation. Though I almost didn't graduate due to mis-reading a finals schedule and therefore not getting the proper amount of units to acutally, y'know, graduate. But that's a story for another time. DISINTEGRATION was the perfect listening in sunny southern California, aka the Southland while everything crumbled beneath my feet. I mean, what the fuck am I going to do to make myself useful? Yeah, that job search from summer until winter of 1990 was just a goddamn low point, more like series of low points. So, yeah, "Same Deep Water as You"? You're right it was an anthem.

Because, honestly, fitting in has never been high on my skill set. So an office job? I'm lucky I survived in the one I did for just over five years, and I was working on self-sabotage to get myself removed or sent to another department, but again, another story.

So June is a big Cure month for me. Even more so since I've backslid into coldwave/goth/whateverwave as part of my regular listening, even a big part. And while DISINTEGRATION is not the desolate and brutal howl that PORNOGRAPHY (mostly) was, it really was my doorway into all kinds of stuff I listen to now. Yeah, sure, I picked up smatterings of it from friends and the like. Not to mention the regular procession of vendors selling (no doubt bootleg) merchandise all over campus on a monthly basis it seemed. You know, the giant, door-sized and bigger posters of album covers or stills. Lots of Cure, Siouxsie, Bauhaus in there. An assortment of punk mostly when it was still hardcore, but some of the early stuff from both sides of the Atlantic. And all that stuff like Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins and Xymox or Dead Can Dance with the ethereal postpunk axis. It was all around me then, but I wasn't into it as much as I am perhaps now. Nostalgia? Perhaps. But sometimes the classics just hold up.

Oh, I'm supposed to talk about writing, since that whole writer's journey is what a whole raft of people want to read about for some godforsaken reason. Yeah, it's funny to admit that thirty years after starting actually writing (though in varying degrees of seriousness at different times) I've barely made a dent. And what's that, both my parents didn't nepotism me into the business magically? I thought that always happened. Yeah, no. The worlds of publishing are pretty balkanized and what I wanted to do wasn't the same as what my parents were doing. Nor was I capable of doing that. This is merely a fact, not a slam on myself as a writer. (I try to be better about that these days, and the truth is I'm very good at the relatively narrow seam that I work, but at least I've grown up enough to say that out loud now.)

Yeah, I still don't even have an agent. Weird, right?

It's like I'm not even real sometimes. Like I'm this half-vaporized cloud. It's okay, I've gotten used to it.

So, yeah, admitting that I'll never be the kind of writer that I thought I was gonna be when I started out. It's still an unsettling feeling. I suppose that I only have to be thankful that I didn't go out and try to make this my sole-money-making endeavor. I've had a series of day jobs as well as being a father of two kids who are smarter than me on their slowest days. I've done okay. But I'm not on any must-read lists. I can do anything I want, just that I may reap the readership rewards of that (and am.)

Okay with this. If not, well then I better learn to sell out, which is a thing I haven't been able to manage even when it would've been a benefit to me. Yes, there've been opportunities to. No, I can't make them work because I figure that like an office job, I'd end up getting bored and self-sabotage comes from that. But I'll be darned if I've been able to find an audience or yet learned how to make one. The old dream dies hard, y'know? But maybe you gotta murder that thing, just let it bleed right out so it isn't holding you back any more. That takes some bravery, even if you won't admit it. Even if you won't admit you've been doing it over a long period of years, just letting that dream disintegrate.

Right. Gotta go. "Fascination Street" just came on and I'm gonna meditate on that.

In the meantime, here's some more artwork I've been working at. One's old, but fitting. The other was finished up just this morning.

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