Plans and Reveries

Strange to come across this photo by chance today...searching furiously for one of Wally and his OT from when he started with February '10. He has his last session tomorrow.

Of all the people I've ever been in bands with I think only Alex is still playing music. Oh yeah--Ivan too has been writing songs and recording them. They're really good. Even when I'm awake. The first Joe would be if he hadn't died. In fact one of the reasons he died, his parents told us, was he kept putting off surgery in the fear that he wouldn't be able to play guitar after he had it.

Everyone's on the career track now. Or the mid-30s last hurrah. Or the family track. You know how that's always said with such distaste—they’re on the family track, i.e., they’re into themselves now, or at least not into: career, rock music, hanging out with friends, staying out late drinking too much? Joe from Bayonne's drums are still in Gowanus. Last night I started playing music again.

This photo looks like a still for a movie that we never ended up making. Or maybe we did, just separately. My dad took it on the roof where my sister used to live in Brooklyn just a few days before—or after?—our CBGBs gig. It closed that October; five years ago. Yet another place we’ll point to and try to get young people born after it was gone to get excited about. Can you believe that's where CBGBs used to be? And they’ll say, “What’s CBGBs?”


When the story ends, you die, and not the other way around. 

Worship is the clearest sign of mass deficiencies in a relationship.

Hemingway rewrote the ending to A FareWell to Arms 39 times.

All those million dreams, big and little, if they hold you back from accomplishing some other, more important dream, they’re not serving your life purpose anymore. 

Worrying about other people is just resistance. Worrying what they’ll think about you, or how much they irritate you, or feeling you need to convince them of anything at all--is just resistance. Paying attention to the news too much, to what you should be buying, cooking, consuming, wearing, doing, to how others could be happier, sleep better, stop drinking so much coffee, it's all resistance. 

Recently Alex said, "Have you noticed magnets don't repel each other lately?"

The question when it comes to clutter is not -- Do I want this? or Could I one day use this? or Do I like this in isolation? These questions can't be asked on a case by case basis. One by one, every book is valuable, every chachka could look kind of nice perched by itself on the window sill, maybe every shirt could one day be worn. The question has to be posed to the aggregate -- Do I want to live like this? If yes, don't change. If no, start getting rid of, even indiscriminately. Don't you want to be free? To "Write while you have the light"? Plus, someone else might be able to use it.

Did you ever notice how the people who are the most confident about what they say and how they live their lives are usually the most intolerable to be around? Like anyone who has it "all figured out" and is always giving others advice on how to sleep better or work harder or fix their relationship usually has this horrendous, unbearable forcefield of miserable energy circling around them?

The beginning of the end is when you start caring about having a comfortable bed and you can't really stomach $4 bottles of wine.

The fun of it is you and the woods, the descending sun, the smell of the pine trees, the unexpected daffodil that’s somehow still alive. It’s not what your parents or boyfriend or boss or bass player or friends think about each thing you find, it’s what you think and feel, or don’t feel, remember or try desperately to block out. It’s the experience of being out there and the alarming things you find and the moments that inspire and the dirty, creepy stuff too: the whiskey bottles, an old mattress, a ripped up photo of a pretty blond girl with bangs and a heart-shaped locket. You’ll come back inside to  feel safe, to create a life, but you go out and gather pumpkins and wildflowers, you don’t seek those things from your relationship or your family or your friends, you get those things on your own, or with interactions from outside people, and you bring home the things that transport themselves, and you tell stories about the wolf you think you might have caught a glimpse of and the church bells you heard from the other side of the lake. But the point wasn’t in the stories you tell or the wildflowers and precious stones and sea glass you bring home and collect in a blue jar. It was in the experience itself, the cracking of fallen sticks, the sun still trying so hard, even in late December, even on the shortest, darkest, loneliest day of the year, to peer down through the giant looming pine trees and reach you. 

How much failure are you willing to accept?

In the band you either had your own gig coming up or somebody else’s. You were drinking all the time. There was always this charged energy, this sense of purpose; wherever you were at any given moment was where you were supposed to be.

In the end though, if you can’t bring yourself to do it (I’m telling myself this) then you don’t really want it that badly. Those 10,000 reasons you tell yourself for why you didn’t do it--you feel bad hearing the baby cry, feel like you should have a nice dinner with your family, feel like you're being rude to your friend Magali, feel bad not going to the holiday party, should make your holiday charitable donations, all this paperwork and people keep calling. Who are you trying to convince? Who are you asking permission from? Who are you laying out the explanation for – see this is why I didn’t play music or write or follow through on that impossible dream. Meanwhile the sea level rises. You can’t argue with endangered orangutans.

But you’re not asking me, are you? (You don’t know me, and I haven’t published anything but a few bargain basement impulse buys.) You’re not asking your favorite writers like William Faulkner or Katherine Mansfield or Anne Tyler. You’re not asking those 30-something Jewish writers from Brooklyn that keep pouring our brilliant novel after brilliant novel, obnoxiously so. You’re not asking your 7th grade English teacher. You’re not asking your wife, you’re not asking your children, you’re not asking your boss, you’re not asking your therapist. You’re not even asking God. You’re asking yourself – is this okay? Is it okay that I did not write? That I didn't play music? That I gave up ballet? That I never paint anymore? It is, isn’t it? Do you understand why? Do you see how much I was up against? I didn't stand a chance at all, did I? 

Ask yourself if the most important part being out there in the gauzy light that still makes its way down through the skeleton trees, hearing your own breath. Or is it to return and tell others about it? It's the end of summer--why are you imagining winter? Is it to be there again? To find out what it meant? To set out for Ithaca, to hear a four-count rhythm, to find a green light, to hunt a white whale? Is it to feel the jagged stone in your pocket and know that tomorrow you’ll be out there again? 

The windows are lit up. Your friends are back inside, they're getting set to watch From Here to Eternity. It's cozy and they're making popcorn. They warned you not to go out into that ungentle December night. Partly they were worried for you and partly they just wanted your company, but mostly they wanted things to stay the same. Tell them they can dream their infinity dreams, but you only have a little bit of time.

Title: Black Gold


  1. Huge oversight: Than is in Black Gold. "Plans and Reveries" is an amazing song. Go listen to it. In fact I think I'm going to rename this post in homage to that song. Although I still want to expose those imperial choir lies.

  2. Quote from Timothy this past weekend: "Who's Cher?"

    But I can't stomach $4 wine. In my mind, I shouldn't have to.

  3. Do you believe in life after Cher?
    You're right!! They're almost impossible to get down ($4 bottles of wine)

  4. I want a VERY comfortable bed, but I'm still OK with Concho y Toro.


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