Hi, it’s me again. Last time was in March. Still standing. I’m now 69 years old. Serious shit; as a friend joked the other day, I’m no longer in danger of dying of early onset anything.  Beginning to tire of my (fading) generation’s obsession with all things cool….in the 1970s and early 1980s.  So far, I’ve managed to avoid the temptation of reunion shows at meg-arenas.  Now we have David Bowie Barbie dolls and a biopic on the Sex Pistols packaging danger at a safe distance.  Happens in every generation I guess; we hold on.  When I recently drove on CA route 46/41 from Paso Robles there were huge cutout pictures of James Dean at Shandon, CA, where his car lost control.  Never can say goodbye.  Not to diss nostalgia, the new Bowie movie (Moonage Daydream) was refreshing and I’m still thinking about it. Of course, the subject matter was a towering musical and artistic genius, but the movie really appealed to me aka regular guy because it zeroed in what are any creative person’s motivations and struggles. The relentless searching. Highlights for me are when he says that he hated to waste a single day or when pressed to state his spiritual or religious beliefs he simply said he loved life. Very inspiring. I am ashamed to admit it, but the gender bending kind of went over my head when I was younger.  To the contrary, my daughter - upon attending 7 Door Sedan’s show as part of one of Claudia Neuman’s DC Bowie tribute concerts - was quick to point out the dissonance/irony of how few gay or trans people were in attendance. For me, it was just a question of Does it Rock? Y/N. Anyway, love love loved the movie and the guitar geek in me is still wondering: was that really Jeff Beck on stage with Mick Ronson and the Spiders during Jean Genie? 

I’ve been recording, getting better at Garage Band, going back through my old songs, writing new ones. My wife Patty takes my periodic “what do you think of this song?” in good humor, although to be fair she has also been known to ask me “what do you think of this painting?”  Art is a series of obstacles and detours.  Music at my age is chasing ghosts - I love/loved to perform but can’t get back there due to….well, the reasons become excuses. It’s hard to motivate myself. So, I “wake up you sleepy head, put on some clothes, shake up your bed” etc, get right to it, put one foot in front of the other, block out the distraction, keep moving. 


I keep asking myself WWBD, what would Bowie do. I imagine Everyone Besides Me has seven computer monitors with lots of blinking lights, acoustically perfect wood paneled recording studios, isolated vocal booths, many guitars each in a different tuning, and pals right down the street who come to “jam” and voila out comes perfect, professional sounding, polished gems. I’m a legend in my own mind right now, working on new material that I think are good songs and well arranged, but I’m hesitant to release it (whatever that means nowadays) because, well, it doesn’t sound professional and I need to find help pushing them to the finish line.

That said, it was a real treat when Rob Moss (no relation, although we take to calling each other Cuz now) contacted me to ask if I would like to contribute to an upcoming recording that would feature eleven tunes, each with a different guitar player from the DC area.  Back in the day (1980s) Rob played bass with Government Issue, a major DC punk rock band.  Although Rob played with Tom Lyle (former next door neighbor) and heard about me through 7 Door Sedan recordings, I didn’t know him from, well, Rob. And he’s got the exact same birthday as mine (well, 10 years younger). I sure was a dummy in home recording so Rob walked me through it.  As I have said in past posts, I get nervous committing anything to tape, vinyl, file, etc., but the final CD - called Now with More Rockets by Rob Moss and Skin-Tight Skin - sounds pretty dang good and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s cool to be associated with the project - local DC pals Glenn Kowalski and Martha Hull and Abaad Behram and Danny Frankel play on it as well. It is a sweet reminder of DC. Check out the CD at https://skin-tight-rock.bandcamp.com/album/now-with-more-rockets

I’m spending time reading Beat Literature - Burroughs, Huncke, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Casady, Bukowski - man after man after man, and eventually a Di Prima and Waldman, lone feminine voices who are not simply Wives Of. The men - all White - are so ugly they are beautiful, with their alcohol, injection scars and mental illness. Speaking of Bukowski, LA is feeling like a comfortable, old, art deco-designed shoe.  I can’t believe I am actually back in LA as an adult. Peak oil/climate crisis aside, I love to drive - at least during non-rush hour, which is still apparently a thing - and LA is a driving town.  Not a muscle car, just me and my Toyota Prius. In August, I found myself waiting on a tow truck which thankfully was just a battery and not mercilessly shot down in that demilitarized zone between battery, starter and alternator. I live by the sword, die by the sword.  Trapped and lonely in the big city. It lifts my spirits to be downtown in particular, like the rooftop of the Bendix building at the corner of Maple and 12th St, or the galleries on Santa Fe Ave. We also drove on the newly re-opened 6th St. Viaduct over the LA river to Boyle Heights, or the new Taylor Yard pedestrian/bike bridge over the same river. While the architecture is beautiful and inspiring, I am also filled with melancholy and dread - every bit of urban reinvention usually means gentrification. As Bob Dylan said, money doesn’t talk, it swears. I am waiting for the Serious Young People who will bail us all out with some out of the box type thinking to cure all societal ills. 


6 thoughts on “69

  1. Hello Ken,
    Most of your ramblings went over my head but I did appreciate your willingness to put your life in some kind of order and your description of your life as a vagabond life. I identified with that. We mostly
    read different books except for
    writers like AIlan Ginsberg and maybe Gary Snyder and Richard Brautigan. Music: Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, the Mamas and the Poppas, Joan Baez, et al who you might not
    have heard of. My efforts at creativity have been writing
    poems, essays and letters to the editor and harmonica and electronic pianoi

    1. Whatever resonates with you is important. Yeah I’m more of a punk/post punk guy but was suckled on the blues and all the musical food groups you mentioned. It’s all a continuum – whether Oscar Wilde or Rimbaud or Charlie Parker or Pete Seeger. The vagabond thing or free thinking are unifying themes. If you are true to yourself you don’t really need the empty calories of (lots of) possessions. I’m doing a lot of talking here but just trying to say thanks for commenting ?
      PS Keep making music!

  2. It is heartening to read your burgeoning love for LA, the city in which you were raised. Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” still brings a smile to me no matter how pop-y. The drive, the streets, the lights…..It was welcome to read about a slice of your creative life.

  3. I’m getting a kick out of your musings. Keep it up (the writing, that is). As for the reading, If you haven’t yet, ya gotta read Kerouac’s Visions of Cody. His best spontaneous bop prosody.

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