Wednesday, April 08, 2009

post script

"Another game/of putting things aside/as if we'll come/back to them sometime."
- Toad the Wet Sprocket, 'Something's Always Wrong'

First of all, it's good to be back -- this once. Second, I haven't missed blogging as much as I thought I would. It's kind of nice to have a thought and then tuck it away (for later use). But I do miss my regular readers/commenters. To you loyal few, I thought I would just mention that I am now (love it or hate it) on Twitter (me handle is StanBernadino). So I'm still injecting nonsense into the universe. I'm just injecting it in much smaller doses.

Basically I've come back this once because I thought of a post I always wanted to get to and never did. Also, technically I'm free to come back whenever I want. For you see, when I went back through some of my old posts, I noticed I had actually posted 600 and ONE times before my (at the time) final post (making this post #603). It's a technicality, but does provide the legal framework for my return, should I choose to return...which right now is doubtful.

But I am back right now, so for the moment let's go with it.

This post, the post I've always meant to write, involves a rock and roll show I saw back in 1994. It could have been in 1993, but that doesn't sound quite right to me. It took place here in Minneapolis at the venerable Uptown Bar & Cafe on Hennepin. Besides serving heap-loads of hash browns with every glorious breakfast, the Uptown doubles as an entertainment venue. It's even possible The Replacements once played there, back in the day. As entertainment venues go, it's high on atmosphere, a little muddled when it comes to acoustics and not overly roomy as far as floor space.

This particular night I was there with friends to see some band that was hip at the time. But it's not them I remember. In fact, I don't remember them at all. What I remember is the guy who opened for them. He had a band behind him, but he was the show. It was his band the same way The Dave Clark Five was Dave Clark's band. For an opener, I thought he was really good. He had a strong voice and the songs were catchy. However, no one else in the place was listening. Pretty much everyone except for me and him were focused on drinking and their own conversations. He made multiple attempts to engage the crowd and received exactly nothing for his efforts, valiant though they were. At some point you could tell even he realized the show was over, though he and his band were still stuck onstage, playing in vain.

Which brought him to his closing song -- a cover of 'Wonderful Tonight.' Except this cover was unlike any other cover of 'Wonderful Tonight' I've ever heard. This cover was littered with profanities and obscenities. It also wasn't sung in the spirit Mr. Clapton probably intended it. This cover was laced with acid and venom and the singer made no effort to hide his sheer disdain and dislike of the crowd he had just performed before. At the end of the song, he may have even told us to go ---- ourselves. If he did, I wouldn't have blamed him.

When the band started breaking down their equipment (in preparation for the hip band's set), I kind of felt like walking over to the singer. I wanted to apologize and also applaud his efforts. Again, I really liked his music. As it happened, he was surrounded by a number of his friends (I'm assuming) and it looked like they were giving him plenty of support and reassurance.

He was a little bit older than your average rock and roller, and part of me suspected (and still suspects) that might have been his last rock show. If it was, then it was a little sad and a lot more bitter than sweet. But I've thought about that guy a lot over the years and I think now it's alright. If he did depart the stage for good that night, that's okay. He went out on top as far as I'm concerned. I mean, all you can do is sing your song. If no one's listening, that's their problem.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Post #601 (AKA Radio Silence)

'And if I don't see ya/in a long, long while/I'll try to find you..'
- The Replacements, Left of the Dial.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Cheese Post

It would appear the prophecies are coming true. First, as promised, I wrote about a man with a hatchet. And now The Cheese Post is upon us. The end (of this blog -- for now) is near. Believe it or not, I've been taking notes on the way I would like this post to go. It's my 600th post (actually closer to 750, probably), so you'd think I could just go unplugged. But, no. In front of me are notes. Okay, it's a sticky note. Regardless, it counts.

Now even though I SAY this is my second to last post (for now) -- and I do -- my wife, who knows me better than I do, says I won't be able to stay away from blogging. Maybe she's right. But for now, let's go with the premise that I will stick to my word (at least for a time).

Before we drop the curtain, though, let's take a quick look back. I was trying to decide this week why it was I began blogging in the first place. I couldn't and can't say 100% for sure. Part of it was I had a fringe show to promote; part of it was a number of friends and colleagues of mine in the Hamline Creative Writing program were blogging. And part of it, I'm sure, is that on some very basic level I am an attention whore. There, I said it and I don't feel the least bit bad about it.

Which brings us to 'why am I quitting?' (or taking a hiatus). I think the best way to say it is...because of the octopus. Let's make it less cryptic: On the news recently they had a story about an octopus at the Boston Zoo. Apparently, octopi are intelligent; they're problem-solvers. Put their food in a mayonnaise jar and they'll find a way to get it open. Who knew? Anyhoo, some wiseacre at the Boston Zoo thought it would be interesting to put this octopus's food in a glass box, leaving only a two inch opening in the box. So you can visualize it better, the glass box was about the size of your average treasure chest (the kind you would find on most sunken pirate ships). And the octopus was large, too! He was quite bulbous and probably went about...5'4. You won't believe what that octopus did! He, somehow, funneled himself completely into the box and got his food. Somehow, some way, he...poured himself into this really tight space, so that he was taking up almost all the room inside the box. When I saw that, I thought, 'This blog is that box, and that octopus is ME!' Quite the revelation.

What I mean by that is this blog is A creative outlet for me. It's fun, I enjoy blogging (and my fellow bloggers and people who are kind enough to comment on this blog from time to time) and it gives me a vehicle to air new material. However, it is not lucrative, it does not pay the bills and it does not get me closer to that magical HOLLYWOOD sign. So for now, that's my rationale for walking away. I was also struck by something The Joker said in last summer's blockbuster, The Dark Knight. He said, 'if you're good at something, don't do it for free.' I'm not sure I'm a good blogger/writer, but I'm at least okay. And I'm not sure if taking career advice from The Joker is the wisest course. Still, I've always been one to pick up wisdom wherever I find it, and I have to say, that makes sense to me (what The Joker said).

Still, it will be an adjustment. For instance, I will no longer have a place to write about all my great ideas -- like my idea for liquid Pop Tarts. I was thinking, 'In this crazy world, who has time to eat Pop Tarts anymore? What if you could drink your Pop Tarts while walking out the door?' Then I thought, 'Who has time to drink their Pop Tarts anymore? Why not 'I-V Pop Tarts?' It's stuff like this that I'll miss (at least for the time being).

And now? The Cheese! As some of you know, I've said all along that 'all we are is blocks of cheese, and every day's another slice.' However, the actual idea behind The Cheese Post began months ago when I was watching Reality Bites for the 78th time. Or perhaps it was when I caught St. Elmo's Fire for the 106th time. The premise of The Cheese Post, then, is this: If you've seen the movie Blade, you know there was a Blade 2, which was not a good movie, unlike Blade (a near-classic). However, there was a part in Blade 2 which stuck with me. Blade, by the way, is a character played by Wesley Snipes. He's half-human and half-vampire (and all butt-kicking machine) and he really has a thing for vampires, which is why he kills as many of them as he can. However, and ironically, he himself has to taste blood from time to time to keep his motor running. And there's a part in Blade 2 where poor Blade is on the ropes. He's been kicked around but good! Lucky for him, though, not 20 feet below the ledge upon which he stands is a vat full of fresh blood. Unluckily, there's a guy with a gun about to shoot him. Long story a little shorter, Blade tumbles over the edge as the gun goes off. He lands in the blood with a splash, sinking into the crimson liquid. Is he dead? Is he alive? Is he now among The Living Dead? You're not sure. Then, all at once, he explodes up out of the blood and you just KNOW he is back to good and ready to kick some more vampire tail, ASAP.

I'm not Blade, of course. And other than the fact we both like to wear sunglasses, we don't have much in common. But, like Blade, I myself get run down from time to time. When he gets run down, he needs to immerse himself in blood; when I get run down, I need to immerse myself in cheese. Pure, unadulterated, cinematic cheese. That's what shows like St. Elmo's Fire and Reality Bites are to me, soothing cheese of the finest kind. You know how it is out there. This old world will wear you down any which way it can. It gouges at you and chips away at you until all that's left is a frown. When it does this, as it is wont to do, do I give up then? No. No, that's when I pick up the remote control, dial in the upper channels and flip around until I lock in on an old pseudo-classic. I then let myself sink to the very bottom of a vat filled with cheesy Hollywood goodness -- not unlike a broken tortilla chip -- and emerge recharged -- ready to kill more vampires! Or ready at least to give the next day another chance.

You know, The Cheese Post may have been overhyped. I guess that's okay. It's getting late, and it's my night to monitor the stars (to make sure nothing goes too wrong).

I'll leave you with just a bit of advice: First, never forget that life is a lot like chess: If you want to win, sometimes you have to put your pieces in danger. And by that I don't mean you have to take stupid risks. What I mean is you just have to put yourself out there from time to time, and keep in mind that there's risk involved in everything -- even whittling. I'm serious! One minute you're shaving down a stick, the next minute there's a hook where your right hand used to be and you're captaining a pirate ship. Don't think it can't happen! It happened to my great-great grandpa, and I'm reminded of it every single time I'm at the store, buying peanut butter. Lousy Peter Pan..

Lastly, never forget it's the flowers that keep the hills standing...and the hills that give the flowers a place to bloom.

Phew, that's a lot. I'm exhausted.

Monday, March 16, 2009

speaking of speaking..

I remember a college textbook I had once. In this textbook -- a psychology textbook, I believe -- there was an anecdote about a highly respected person who was giving a speech. As far as anyone knew, the guy was sane, sound as the British Pound. How-ever, as he got deeper into his speech, he began to explain to his audience how every song that had ever been written was about him. He ended his speech by throwing a hatchet out into the crowd (I don't believe it struck anyone). The moral of that story is/was that mental/emotional problems are very real, and some are quite treatable. In fact, I believe this fellow who was giving the speech was straightened out right quick when put in touch with the proper meds.

Anyway, that anecdote really struck a chord with me. First I thought, 'Wow, how crazy is that?' But the more I thought about it, I thought, 'How come I always miss the good speeches?'

Oh, well. You can't win them all. Neither can I. Still, even today, that guy gives me hope. Sometimes when I'm sitting through a boring speech, or worse, giving one, I'll think, 'Maybe that guy with the hatchet will show up..'

DISCLAIMER: I do not want to see anyone struck with a hatchet. That is NOT what I'm about. I'm simply a big believer in keeping things interesting.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

...but you can't make him think

Steady Erosion
I was driving along
the Mississippi River
yesterday and
happened to
glance down
at the river.
The section
I was looking down
upon appeared
just really...pathetic.
A weak trickle.
Right then I wanted
to hike down to the
river bottom and shout,
'You call yourself Mighty?
Are you kidding me?
My dog pisses more than this
each morning at six o' clock!'

I'm pretty sure
I could use a vacation
from my scars.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

bringing down the horse

"I don't care that you won't quit this notion/of burying the carnival."
- Michael Penn, Half Harvest

I have an announcement, of sorts. I'm thinking very seriously of taking an extended leave from this blog. Now, don't get up on that city ledge just yet. Basically, it's just a good time for me to get to work and focus on other creative ven-tures (pronounced like dentures ((pronounced like den-tours)) ). I know myself pretty well, and as long as I have a creative outlet of some kind -- like this blog -- I will continue to drag my feet and avoid other projects which might prove to be at least mildly lucrative. So I think after post #601, that will be it for awhile. I'm not planning on abandoning the site, but I will be away from it for an extended stretch. In these few posts that remain pre-hiatus I will attempt to serve up the same nonsense you've come to expect from me. I will finally write The Cheese Post. I will likely write about a man with a hatchet. I will write about...things. And then, for a time, I won't. But then I will again, unless I don't. As the great George Harrison once wrote, all things must pass.

And he would know.

Finally, a poem.

Fader Knob
My whole life,
it's been this way:
when everyone is
I tune out.
And when no one
is listening,
I tune in.
could probably
tell me
just why
that is.
But I promise you,
when they did
I would not
be listening.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


When I'm officially
I hope to come back
as either a panda bear
or a bamboo tree.
But not both
at the same time!
That could get