Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin And A Partridge In A Pear Tree

Ricky Martin made headlines this week when he formally announced that he is gay.

In other news, the Pope has finally come out and revealed that he is Catholic, and Ron Jeremy is expected to declare that he is of above average endowment later this week.

It's about time, Ricky. You had us all fooled. Or perhaps there is something we don't know about Rebecca De Alba's anatomy.

How is this news? It's as if Yahoo had decided to run an expose on the fact that the Chicago Cubs do, in fact, suck.

I will admit:  I still took the time to read the story. On two different websites.

It's mind-boggling to think of how much time I spend on menial activities, like reading said quasi-news stories, or folding my underwear, or attempting to get the ends of a trash bag open so I can line a trash can with it. I estimate that I spend at least 30 profanity-laden seconds per trash-bag change, which happens probably twice a week. That's a minute a week, wasted. Gone. 52 minutes a year. If I live to be 85, I will have spent 73.6 hours, or just over three full days of my life, wrestling with my plastic demons.

I wish I could just get all three of those days out of the way at once. Maybe. That IS a lot of sack to deal with in a short period of time. Perhaps Ricky Martin would be willing to help out.

I slept in today. Got to bed at 1:30, and woke up at 9:45. I honestly cannot recall the last time I had a chance to do that. I can't comprehend the fact that the average American watches six hours of TV a day. Six hours? Since canceling my cable last year, I haven't even watched a total of six hours of TV in 2010. It seems silly to live through imaginary people's lives when you could be living your own.

And don't even get me started on these MySpace and Facebook games. From the comfort of your own profile, you can start a food fight. You can join the mafia. You can buy your friends as pets. You can get poked, groped and fondled. You can even get pooped on. Look it up.

I really don't get it. Is there really nothing better you could be doing with your life? Even Solitaire requires some sort of mental function. Sadly, this inanity is indicative of society at large, and not just of some lunatic fringe. What could possibly be so important that it would keep the typical American from hitting the gym, writing their grandparents, getting an education, being a contributing family member, and pursuing a lasting and rewarding career? SuperPets, that's what. One hundred years ago, kids worked on the farm. Now, they work on Farmville.

In the thirty minutes that I've spent writing this blog, I've gotten invitations to join RockYou Pets, Vegas, StreetRep, Image Lovecheck, SuperHug, Vampires, and MafiaWorld. That's on MySpace alone. On Facebook, during this past half hour, I've gotten a request to join a world war, and have been gifted a zebra, which I am supposed to send back. Let me spell it out for you: If anybody sends me a zebra, or any other large, multicolored ungulate, I'm keeping it. No ifs, ands, or bison, okapi? You'd be lucky if I even returned a wallaby.  Most likely, it would be AWOLaby.

While no one would accuse me of being unopinionated on the matter, I'm not saying free time is a bad thing. A total lack of it is enough to drive anyone crazy.

This month has left me teetering dangerously on the brink.

Saturday, I finally got back from a three-week tour to SXSW with my new band, Crown Point. 6,000 miles. 17 shows. Eight states One trailer destroyed. One ring swallowed by an obsessed fan in Colorado Springs. One crack den posing as a live music venue. One unfortunate and ill-advised attempt to pee into the wind on the side of the interstate. Three flights. One spring snowstorm in Cheyenne that shut down I-80.

Two crazy nights in Austin. One Houston show shut down by the fire marshal for being over capacity. One show canceled. Two shows with me on drums. Two 22-hour drives. One Dallas snowstorm. Ten days of checking Weather.com to find that it was 20 degrees warmer in Portland than in Texas where we were. One great merch girl from Boise who worked her butt off and had a snore that could have been construed as sound copyright infringement by Husqvarna Chainsaws. One great manager from Spokane who worked his butt off and snored louder than our merch girl. Six sets of earplugs. 25 sleeping pills (not at one time). 35 energy drinks. 10 shots of espresso. 50 bananas. Three band members slapped by banana peels.

One security guard in Gallup, NM, with a chip on her shoulder. Hundreds of amazing fans and friends in cities everywhere. One fan masquerading as Sammy Hagar. One cab ride home at sunrise in Austin. Two nights sleeping at five-star hotels. Two nights sleeping in a no-star van. Three pairs of guitar strings.

Two live Web streams of our shows. One crazy band from Philadelphia that played car keys, threatened to perform operations on fans, and punched each other. One amazing band from Chicago with killer vox and a hot violin player. One open blues jam band. Two hilarious radio DJs in Cheyenne that not only had us on the air but came to that night's show. One run-in with pretentious employees at Jimmy John's. Two men painted silver on soapboxes.

One flat tire a mile from the KKK capital of America. One pack of wild dogs. Two backwoods mechanics. Three bottles of hot sauce consumed. Two in-store appearances. Eight straight nights of being awake after 5 AM. Seventeen death threats directed at my Verizon mobile broadband card. One nice surprise in Boise. Six bottles of homemade 80 proof Kahlua. Three bottles of cayenne pepper powder for my throat. Six 9V batteries for my wireless mic. Six hours a day spent working on my computer. One camera dropped and broken as a result of an impromptu, vaguely homoerotic gymnastics performance with our publicist in Austin. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Yeah, it was a crazy tour. But if I had an extra thumb, I'd probably give it three thumbs up.

I firmly believe that there is no such thing as luck, whether you're a musician, an entrepreneur, a plumber, a gigolo. The harder you work to put yourself in the right place, the more likely you are to experience what outsiders might categorize as good luck.

There is also no such thing as time wasted. With every minute of your life, you make a decision. You decide how to spend it. We are all getting older, together; the hourglass of time is a relentless foe. It's an endless march of sand, as Thrice puts it. How we spend our time determines who we are becoming.

If your time is spent on yourself, you will end up a selfish person. If your time is spent giving, you will end up a loving individual. If your time is spent rooting for the Detroit Lions, you will probably wish you were dead.

A fan in Idaho came up to me after a show last month and told me that the lyrics of my song "Perfect Cliche" had given her the strength to forgive her dad and to reconcile their relationship. It's easy for me, and arguably for most songwriters and authors, to get lost in self-importance and to think that the words we write are changing lives and touching people. It's rare to actually, tangibly, see that take place.

It's no easy road, spending time on things that matter. Why not put off for tomorrow what we should be doing today? In the words of "Perfect Cliche": "Difficult to try and quell the insurrection of time against the soul. And now you're left with the regret of all that's left undone and unsaid, but who collects on emotional debts anyway? Maybe today, and maybe tomorrow; maybe before your time is taken away. Maybe today you'll break what you've borrowed, or maybe you'll mend it with a perfect cliche."

Time is precious. Spend it wisely.