25 September 2010

What the Book Industry should learn from the Music Industry

I do not own a Kindle, Nook or any other e-reader. I am a person who loves to own the material books. Maybe I believe it'll make me look smarter, I don't know.
I can easily compare this to my feelings on music. I love music even more than books, and own alot more records than I do books. OK, I admit it, I am a music geek as well as a record snob. I, like most record geeks, prefer to own my music on vinyl. I can easily see a parallel between the Record Geek part of me and the Printed Book Geek part of me.
Then my ex bought me an iPod. She told me driving around with a 300 CD book of CDs was clutter compared to having one little device to listen to 10,000 songs on. The traditionalist is me fought it, but after she started ripping some of my CDs to my library, I quickly realized how convenient it all was. This could have easily started to cost me a fortune. I could have went out and bought a USB record player. I could have started to pirate MP3 versions of the records I owned. But then a little record company from Omaha,NE did something that quickly started being done by alot of the smaller indie lables that still produce vinyl regularly. When you bought a vinyl record, it came with a download code that also gave you the rights to MP3 (or ACC etc) versions of the tracks on the vinyl. Now I could easliy keep my vinyl at home, but still have high quality, frustrationless versions of the records I own.
As it stands, I do not desire a e-reader. As I said, I prefer the feel of a book in my hand, much like I prefer the sound of a vinyl record. But, if I could get digital versions of my favorite books, just by buying printed versions of books. I might consider having a digital portable version of my book library, like I do my music library.

30 July 2010

Titanic

I get lost in the photographs
that distract me
from our reality
with my memories.

20 July 2010

Lost & Found Pt. 2

It would be another hundred paragraphs if I explained just how much my life was hectic and full of changes from Matthew’s wedding until now. Going from employed and doing well, to unemployed with no car and no place to stay; on to eventually achieving my dream of being a firefighter and slowly getting my life in order. It's safe to say the changes were frequent and rapid. I am not the person I was two years ago, and the person I was six years ago is something like that of legend now. I never forget about Matthew. I would go through various jags of calling all of our mutual friends and ask if they knew about him (we did not have many mutual friends). I would find recording of his bands and download them to hear his voice. I would go to places I knew him to frequent. I spent at many nights searching through countless person search websites. Weeding through the Google results was tedious. There are other people with his name, with plenty of sites talking about their professional work. He was always someone to be under the radar. He never created any significant online identity, never having a website, social networking profile or email. Even his part in bands would get minor mention on the internet, unless it was the band in general. Matt is still nowhere to be found.

New Years Day 2010, Phil posted an update on a social networking site about Matt sending people weird text messages. This shocked me; I did not even know they knew each other well enough to still be in touch. I sent a message asking Phil to forward my number to Matt. To tell him, I have been looking for him for half a decade. Knowing he was alive and in contact with people reinvigorated my hopes to reconnect with him. At this point, the fact that Matthew and I have not had contact started to raise many questions in me. I have lost many friends through time, due to many reasons; some of them to distance, and lack of contact, personality conflict and arguments. I wondered why it was that we had not been in contact. Was it intentional? Did I do something to offend him? I was broke at the time of the wedding and couldn’t afford a gift, maybe he was offended that I showed up empty handed? With all of these possibilities, I felt awkward to bother Phil asking if he heard from Matt about my number. I was left thinking I would only bother Phil if a significant time went by without any progress.

In searches, I eventually found an address in Port Jervis, NY that had Matt as the tenant. This was about an hour and half drive away. I never found a phone number. So no call could be made. I sat with this address in my mind for a few days, working up the initiative to take the drive and face that mystery solving moment. I drove up there one night on a whim. On the way, I realized it was getting late, and with a child in the house; it would be too late to ring the doorbell. I decided, I already initiated the drive and would go anyway, at least to see if there was any sign that this was his home.

I eventually pulled up to the house. It was a quiet rural area, but on one of the main Routes. The sun was already down and there was not a light on in the house. I double-checked the address and it all matched. I pulled into the empty driveway. I got out and looked into the garage, no cars there either. I walked up to the front door. A playhouse and bikes littered the yard; I thought of their children and hoped this was a good sign. On the porch, the screen door had been duct taped, signs of the screen’s fasteners failing. I looked into the living room window and listened for noise. The house was dark and silent and I was disappointed. I started wondering what excuses there could be for the house being empty. Was this not their house? Was it ever? I know Jackie was a nurse; maybe she was working a night shift and the kids were at the grandparent’s house. I knew all the guessing in the world would solve nothing so I walked back to the car and started to drive away. I was deflated; I felt such anticipation to finally reconnect with them. When the house was silent and empty, I left feeling the same. As I drove away, I hated the feeling that this was a futile trip. All of the mysteries about the house left me wanting more, I turned the car around and went back into the driveway. I found a piece of paper and wrote and then rewrote a note to “Matt &/or Jackie?”. I gave a message and my phone number and asked that if the tenants of the house was neither Matt nor Jackie that they contact me and make me aware that I need to continue my search. I expected nothing, but left the note attached to the duct tape on the front door.

Nothing happened for quite some time after I left the note. No calls, no new addresses found. Maybe my guess was true. Maybe it was Matt’s intention to avoid contact? Maybe the stresses of fatherhood and married life just lead him to decide less people in it would make things easier; and I was one the ones who had to go? I thought of that house often, of how the driveway and garage were empty. I pondered the many reasons any house would be that quiet and felt a need to get myself back up to it during daytime hours and see if anything was different. I had a busy schedule of classes and work for the next couple of weeks. Another road trip would have to wait.

Two months after the trip up to the house, I received short notice from a friend that he had an extra ticket to a show in Brooklyn. It was a band I had not seen in years and was very excited to go. We went into the city early enough to stop at a local bar and meet up with a few friends. I also managed to find a few friends I knew from high school. Eventually, the large crowd we gathered walked to the concert and went on to enjoy the beers, laughs and music. My friend had gotten lost in the crowd; After the last band finished, I went looking for him and I bumped into the bassist of my second band with Matthew. I was surprised to see him after so long and we caught up a bit on life. His current band was recording a new record and he was doing well. I eventually asked him about Matthew. When I brought him up, Sean said ‘Oh, I guess you haven’t heard?’ My heart sunk as I saw the look on his face, he was about to share bad news he had come to peace with but knew I would need a second to handle.

‘I haven’t heard anything about him in ages and have been searching for him.’

‘Well, Bryan; Matthew is in prison.’


Burned Wood and Lost Wishes: Lost & Found Pt. 1

09 July 2010

This is the Still, Life

I want.
I want to run, I want to write, I want to shoot, I want to feel the fog in Meath once again,
I want to talk, I want live music, I want to see more, I want to drive all night. I want to own every album, I want to read every book;
I will get to most of these at a pace that is reasonable; but most of all, tonight, I want to be still.
Mind slow and silent, and accepting.

Since I first remember sleeping, I've been restless; averaging four to five hours of sleep a night.
Always with a defiant desire to get back up and see what the world had in store.
Unless I am tired enough to pass out, or have a lover beside me;
I am resistant to sleep.
I have gone thirty and forty hours without sleep and have thought nothing of it.
The nighttime gives me a new found desire to awaken that is often refreshing, but on nights like tonight, it can also be bland and repetitive. To hear others talk of how complete they feel after sleep, I can not relate. When others complain of a lack of sleep, I often can not relate to them either.
If the time comes when I do feel a doze coming on, it is a chore beyond the normal routine of others' to try and get myself to sleep in bed, a second wind will often come and I have to hope to be exhausted soon enough to lay down again,
but many times I just awaken, just to find out where I finally passed out.

08 July 2010

Lost & Found Pt. 1

Matthew was one of my best friends. He was my brother, my band mate. He was my Neal and I was his Jack. We met at a punk show in a squat in NYC. It was a tense introduction, and we left thinking each other was an asshole.
On another day, we met up at a gas station in Long Island. I was asking directions to a show, he happened to also be going to it so I followed him there, but we hardly spoke. After the show ended, my ex and I headed west; back to NJ. We stopped to eat at a diner. A little while after we sat down Matthew and Jackie walked in. I invited them to sit with us, and by the end of the night we were beginning to be friends. It turned out that, though we met up twice in NYC and he had an easily identifiable NYC accent, he was actually living in Dingmann's Ferry, PA. About thirty minutes from where I lived at the time.
It wasn't long after that Matthew and I were spending a lot of time together. He and I had many things in common. We loved the same music, authors and hobbies. We both grew up in inner city neighborhoods and had difficult relationships with our fathers growing up.  We would hike the woods of NJ and PA, sometimes just finding calm places to talk into the night about our confusion of getting through our twenties. We went out skateboarding, went to punk shows, and eventually we started making music together. Matt and I were in two bands together. The music we made back then was a reflection into the confused and angry mind I was in back then, but I remember every note and show we played, and they are some of my most fond memories.
There was a night I needed a friend badly; due to my girlfriend of more than six years and I broking up. Matt came over with a couple six packs of Anchor Steam and we drank and talked into the night. We decided to play some music. I was on my acoustic guitar and Matthew sang. That night, our musical instincts and emotional connection were in perfect sync. We recorded five or six impromptu songs, all completely off the cuff, and they are the most emotional and nostalgic songs I ever wrote. The recording, is sadly, long gone, but that magical night echoes on in my mind.
As time passed, Matthew's relationship with Jackie got more serious. I was having my own complications in life and things were changing. I would see him less. A few weeks would go by, but we would eventually call each other and make time to get together. Eventually, I got an invite to their wedding. I went and had a great time, hoping this was the moment where things would only get better. For my relationship with him. It would not go as planned. I had to move not too long afterward and when I got settled in and tried to call Matt, his cell was disconnected. There had been more than a few times one of us would lose our cell or have to move; we always ended up finding a way to reconnect. That is not the case this time. It is now six years later, and I never received a phone call from him since.



Burned Wood and Lost Wishes: Lost & Found Pt. 2

30 June 2010

In the Fire

So, this is what it looks like after someone is caught in the fire. The smell comes first and stays with you. The Internet doesn't even have a thesaurus or dictionary big enough to find the words for the smell. No one ever wants to smell it but when they do, they'll never forget it.
Then the sight comes into view. It is inhuman. A mannequin spray painted black. Toes curled tight as if the foot was bound down like an ancient Chinese custom. Splits throughout the skin and then the face. What was once the face will never shake from my mind. Almost with extreme comical exaggeration; the face is horror and humor at once. It is all teeth and skull. No hair, no wrinkles, no real discernible expression, yes the desperation is unavoidable. Breathless and frozen; straining for air and release from the trauma.
The burned have no social class. For there are only slim scraps of clothing left, and the dead have no regard for dignity.
In this case the fist is what will follow me home. Laying there on his back, his arm frozen in the position he was baked alive in. His fist was raised up above his head. Almost victorious; though this day, there was nothing my brothers could do to have his rescue be a success.