You must have had so much fun

Sunrise in the deep playa, Burning Man 2014

I’m back from touring with Against Me!, Burning Man and Shangri-la. I see the awe in people’s eyes as the ask me about my journey. It certainly has been an amazing journey. I am extremely grateful for all that I experienced over the past month. I had never been to Burning Man  before nor had I been on a tour of this caliber.  Very few people will ever have the opportunities bestowed upon me over the past month. They want to live vicariously through me. They want to hear my tales of adventure and triumph. They imagine me having the time of my life. Well I did, but you know what? It’s still just life and as we know… life suck. I think the imagined is probably far more exciting that the reality so in an attempt to be kind I will let you imagine how much fun I must have had.

I will say that life on the road sucks a whole lot less than life at home. I still don’t know about this concept of fun however. I enjoyed virtually every minute of

[I started writing this on September 9th and that is as far as I got before I broke into tears.]

The reality is that being back in Minneapolis has been really painful for me. I’ve spent my whole time back here trying to figure out why. The obvious answer is that I have depression, that I’m mentally ill, that there is something wrong with me. I’m fine with the depression label. I’ve got the t-shirt and I wear it proudly. What I reject is that having depression is somehow a defect. That there is something wrong with me. That I need to be fixed. If it is what I am, then so be it. If anything, it’s a super-power that I just need to learn how to control. There is no need for judgement about it.

Feelings are not wrong. Feeling are guideposts. They help us understand our world. But, feelings can cloud our perception of things. They can become overwhelming and distort our view of reality. They can accentuate each other and create a feedback loop to the point where everything just looks shitty. I’ve been there. I know about how that works and it can cause a whole lot of problems. When our choices are based on a false perception of reality we make some pretty fucked up choices. Nature has a way of correcting this though. In time, after a series of fucked up choices, reality and our perception of reality merge and we no longer feel insane. I think that is the world in which we live in, and it’s kind of fucked up.

Depression is not wrong but this pain which I’m feeling is an indication that something is wrong. And oh boy is there a lot of shit wrong! That is reality! My goal, is to not add to it. One solution would be to do nothing but to my brain, my depression brain, that literally means death. Now I know some pretty spiritually enlightened people who have become fairly good at doing nothing. I just don’t think that that is my path. It sounds awfully selfish to me. I’m not judging. I have no problem with people being selfish in this way. It’s all done in the name of God after all so it’s not really selfish, right?. I just think that we are all God so it looks selfish to me. Also, I kind of like people. If I’m going to serve God I’m going to do it by loving people. If I have to put anything out into the world I want it to be love.

So back to this idea of fun. I have a hard time with this concept of fun. It seems really important to a lot of people but I don’t worry about it that much. I have fun sometimes but it’s never my motivation. I don’t go out trying to have a “good time”. It just kind of happens sometimes. My motivation, first of all is to survive. For me, that means doing something, anything. My intention is for it to be meaningful and purposeful. My intent is to give. I want the fuel which puts a fire under my ass to be love. If along the way I have some fun, if I have a good time… that just a bonus.

So what do I find fun? I guess I can find fun in just about anything if I look for it. Breathing is pretty amazing if you think about it. I don’t need to go on a national tour. I don’t need to go to Burning Man. I don’t need to go to Harmony Park. That said, the most fun experience I had was sitting outside our camp at Burning Man, sipping my morning coffee while three naked women biked by. I’m pretty sure that if I started every day that way I wouldn’t have depression. Unfortunately you don’t see much naked biking  in Minneapolis. As amazing as that was, it still couldn’t compare to the awesomeness of watching the sun peak it’s head over the mountain range at the edge of the playa while sitting atop scaffolding that we weren’t suppose to be on. Some would say that I am wrong for this but I don’t see how that could possible be true.

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Peace, pussy, pride and harmony

Rock For Pussy 2014

Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy

The Fourth of July, Independance Day, will be my one month anniversary of sobriety. So far, it’s been quite an adventure. I feel like I may have picked the hardest month of the year to try and get sober but that should come as no surprise. I’ve never been one for doing things the easy way.  I don’t know if that’s part of the alcoholic mind set or not but it’s certainly my nature. I’m an extreme person. The things that are the most difficult are the things I find most rewarding. The truth is, quitting drinking is not difficult. All I have to do is not drink. It’s just that drinking is so easy. As an alcoholic, drinking is what is in my nature. Embracing sobriety means going against my nature. That is why this is a big deal. That is why getting sober is difficult. What I am attempting to do is to evolve. In a sense, I’m trying to become a different species. I’m trying to overcome my human nature.

The irony is that I wouldn’t even be attempting this without a great deal of arrogance and self-confidence yet if I am to succeed it will only be through humility. I like to think of myself as a peaceful person but I’m probably more of a fighter than I would like to admit. I think that is part of the human condition.  Alcoholism is part of my human condition. I won’t be able to overcome it by fighting. This will require a peaceful solution. This will require a spiritual solution. Many struggle with recovery over the spiritual aspect of the program but in truth the struggle is human, not spiritual. We are not human beings seeking a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We think of ourselves as our bodies and our minds. We imagine that our bodies have a soul. It would probably be more accurate to say that we are our soul and we have a body. The soul is pure energy. The soul is peaceful. The soul is in perfect harmony. Sobriety is simply a matter of surrendering to my true spiritual self.

Pride 35W Bridge

The 35W Bridge lit up for Pride

Ah but fuck that.  I will find that spiritual perfection and I will be free from the human condition once I die. Since I feel like I’ve taken suicide off the table, I’m left with no choice but to make the most of this life. I’m kind of enjoying this human experience. I like the journey. It’s fascinating and bizarre. If i’m going to get sober I”m going to do it the human way. I’m going to work at it.

I can’t yet say that quitting drinking is the best decision I’ve ever made but so far it seems to be a pretty good one. Life is not perfect so it’s important to keep things in perspective. Sobriety seems to be about 80% good and 20% sucky. I know that for some people that would still be unacceptable but for me anything above 50% is worth doing. Plus, it’s nice to have room for improvement. My drinking life was probably at 70/30 but I feel like that was about as good as it was going to get it. The highs might not be as high now and the lows not as low, but that could just be because I’m being more cautious.  I have a feeling that as I get more comfortable with sobriety the extremes will reemerge.

Project Earth at Harmony Park

Project Earth at Harmony Park

That said, it has still been a pretty exciting month. June is one of my favorite months of the year. This is the month that my band,  All The Pretty Horses, play “Rebel Rebel: Rock For Pussy”, the annual David Bowie tribute show to benefit no-kill animal shelters. It is also the month of Project Earth, a charitable music festival held at Harmony Park near Geneva, Minnesota and the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis. These are three of my favorite events. They are also three events closely linked to drunken debauchery. Without going into too much detail I think it would be safe to say that I got a lot of practice saying, “no thank you”.

Even my dreams were filled with opportunities to say no. For the first three weeks of sobriety, night after night, I would have anxiety filled dreams of being offered alcohol. Then one night I totally forgot that I wasn’t drinking and had a PBR and a whiskey. The disappointment I felt was overwhelming but I resolved to carry on with my quest for sobriety. Then I woke up and realized it was just a dream. I haven’t had a drinking dream since. I know that there is a moral in there somewhere.

Do wot you do

It’s been over a month since I’ve published anything on this page. I want to apologize for that. Of course I don’t know if my failure to post has caused any harm but I would like to believe that I have been missed. I always knew that I would be back but it was an unintended hiatus. To make a long story short, my life just blew up all at once in many different directions and as a result somethings got left in the dust. Another key factor which necessitated the hiatus was the direction I was trying to take this blog. I started down the path of asking some of the bigger “why” questions and discovered a rabbit hole that was too deep to put into words. Maybe, I’m not ready to take that on quite yet.

Still, I have been thinking about why people do what they do. In an attempt to simplify this question I’ve tried to categorize motivation into three all encompassing categories. We do what we do because:

  • We NEED to
  • We WANT to
  • We CAN do

The last one certainly accounts for all behavior but I felt it needed to be included as a separate motivation because so much of what we do has nothing to do with wants or needs, we just do. We are creatures of habit. We spend most of our day not thinking about why we do what we do; we just do it. Even our reactions to unexpected situations are not clearly thought out. We simply react. I would like to believe that we react by doing the best we can do but often we just do whatever we can do. I think it’s human nature to always be doing something.

I think that my chronic illnesses gives me a unique perspective on why people do what they do. I don’t spend a lot of time specifically talking about my so called disabilities. It’s not because I don’t think it’s an important subject or that I think people can’t relate. It’s because they are so omnipresent in my life that I don’t even think about them most of the time. They are not a separate part of my life. This is just my life. I’m sure that if I felt judged or marginalized for my life I would be more proactive and assertive about discussing my disabilities but considering that most people think I’m pretty functional I don’t see the need to make an issue of it.

What makes my life unique is that everyday I wake up with different abilities. It’s as if I wake up everyday with a new body and a new mind. Like everyone else, I get up everyday and do what I do but what I can do will very greatly from day to day.  I might not even know what that is until I’ve had a cup of coffee. Drinking coffee every morning is about as far as I can get with being a creature of habit. Let’s hear it for the power of addiction; it’s stronger that chronic illness.

So back to why I haven’t been doing this blog for the past month… it might be good to start with my motivation for doing it in the first place. As an artist, I consider this blog part of my art. Artists often feel an unyielding need to produce, to create, to make art. This blog certainly fulfills that need but it’s not the only means by which I have to do it. I actually started this blog as a means to an end. It came into existence because of something else that I wanted to do. For the time being, what I wanted to do is not an option making this blog no longer a means to that end. In the end, writing this blog is not a need nor a want, it is simply something I can do… sometimes.

That may be as good as it gets. For the past month I have barely been able to do the things that I felt I needed to do.  All of a sudden my daughter required more of my time, my job as a pedicab driver started up again, the band that I’m in kicked into gear again and I wound up with a couple of solo gigs that required me to focus on my own music. These are all good things so I have no regrets. I can’t exactly call having to file my taxes a good thing but I made that into more of a distraction than it needed to be. Plus, I’m getting money back so it’s hard to put that in the bad column.

The only truly bad thing thing that has happened over the past month which has contributed to this writing hiatus is having to let go of a friend, although hopefully that will be temporary as well.  There is nothing that I hate more than letting go of people. Sometimes it’s just a necessity. I would love to blame her for this action. I would love to say that she is just a bad person and that I am better off without her in my life. I’m sure that reveling in vitriol would feel better than this, it’s just not something I can do. As a person with chronic illnesses I have to take personal responsibility for my own health. I don’t have the luxury of blaming other people, making them responsible for my life; I can’t afford to give up my power.

Besides, blaming my friend for doing what she does would be like blaming the scorpion for stinging the frog. For those not familiar with what I’m talking about, there is a fable about a frog and a scorpion. The scorpion asks the frog for a ride across the river and the frog refuses stating that the scorpion would sting him. The scorpion makes the case that if he did that he would die too so the frog had nothing to worry about. The frog agrees and give the scorpion a ride on his back. Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog.

The frog in shock asks the scorpion, “Why did you do that? Now we will both die!”

To which the scorpion replies, “It’s in my nature.”

The moral, at least as I see it, is that people are who they are. They do what they do. Some of it’s nature, some of it’s nurture but you can’t expect people to miraculously change overnight. My friend is a beautiful, wonderful, caring person but she will sting me if I give her the opportunity. I love and trust my friend implicitly because I know that she will always be herself. That is rare and it means a lot to me. You can say that the scorpion is stupid or even evil but I respect him for sticking to his nature even though it will mean his death. I just don’t want to be the frog.

 

 

 

 

Fetish Revolution – Part 1

The drive to Phoenix felt like a breeze compared to the past couple of days. And breeze may not be the appropriate term. At times we were dealing with gale force winds, perhaps stronger than any winds I have experienced before. Upon reflection, Mother Nature may have provided the most intense experiences of the past 24 hours. She certainly provided the most beautiful. Our decent from northern Arizona to Scottsdale took us through the Tonto National Forest. It was an amazing drive and I wish I had better pictures but here is one.

Tonto National Forest

Tonto National Forest

Along the way we stopped in this small mountain town to get gas. I guess it does cross my mind what people think of us when they see this band of motley looking characters get of a black-on-black tiger-striped vehicle. I’m sure it’s quite a sight to be seen but to me it can’t compare with what they see all around them every day. Jazz mentioned that they will be talking about us for months. I don’t know if that is actually true but it does make me feel a bit jealous.  It takes so much to shock me these days.

The event this weekend is the type of thing that would shock most people. I did arrive with expectations of the most lasciviousness nature, and with good reason. The last time we performed at one of these shows things got so out of hand at the after party that we can never return to that hotel again. It’s not complete bravado that persuaded me to take the pill of Cialis which I had been hanging onto for the past four months.

I clearly had sex on my mind last night but I don’t know how to make those things happen. I’m not a player. I’m no Casanova. I would like to believe that I know how to seize an opportunity when it arises but I’m not even sure that is the case. I did learn that the hotel has a complimentary happy hour so I wasn’t going to pass that up. We let Venus go on to the venue without us and Jazz and I headed down to the pool for a couple Tequila Sunrises.

Venus at Martini Ranch for  Fetish Revolution

Venus at Martini Ranch for Fetish Revolution

Venus performed a solo-acoustic set last night. I’ve played in her band for the past 6 years but I have been a fan for the last 15 years. Since I’m usually on stage with her it is a real treat to get to be in the audience and a great reminder of why I do this in the first place. Venus is a truly remarkable performer and way ahead of her time. I don’t even think the numerous trans-gender people in the audience were not aware of what they were experiencing. I fear that Venus will not be fully appreciated until long after she has given up performing. But I will know that I was there, that I was part of it.While I have the opportunity, I want to do everything in my power to share the magic she creates with anyone who is open to receive it. I’m so grateful that James Bound, co-founder of Horns and Halos, producer of this event, is one of those people who gets it.

I don’t even know how to describe one of these fetish events. It’s such a bizarre clustering of people. I like diverse crowds and if you are into people watching this is certainly a candy store for the eyes. But I don’t really care what people look like. I want to know who they are. I want to get into their head… and sometimes into their pants. Most of the people at this event weren’t even wearing pants. And the fact that this is basically a costume party adds another level of difficulty to figuring out who is who.

People attend these events for so many reasons. Some come for the fantasy, a chance to be someone different. Some come for the music, mostly industrial and goth. Some come for the fashion; some just to look and some to be looked at. Some come because this is one place where they can feel totally normal and some come to have an experience completely out of the ordinary. There is every kind of kink and proclivity, sexual orientation and gender identity represented. I’m fine with all of that. All I want to know is which one of these beautiful human beings wants to have sex with me.

I did meet many amazing people. I met a man dressed as a pirate who was able to pull off the hook hand and peg leg for real. I met a woman covered in scares from consensual but not self-inflicted knife wounds. She was not impressed with the bite mark on my chest. I met a wonderful lesbian couple and we had a great conversation but I had to cut it short because this obviously wasn’t going to lead where I wanted my night to take me. I met half-naked poll dancers who were lovely to look at but not available for conversation. I met a woman laying on her back, next to a bowl of strawberries and covered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I asked if I could dip my strawberry in the chocolate sauce on her chest. She said I could but I needed to put the strawberry in my mouth. I obliged, getting the gooey mess all over my beard. I think it was at that point that I realized that I needed to abandon all hope of getting laid and find another way to have fun.

As much as I enjoy having sex I think I equally enjoy dancing. I sometimes forget this. Being an entertainer and spending most of my time in clubs on stage, I forget how much fun it is to just dance. So I headed for the dance floor, not needing a partner, not caring who was watching, just going to move my body and feel the music. It seemed like the DJs were playing music just for me. Either that or they were trying to wind down the night because the music shifted from hard industrial and electro to a songs that I actually knew. It began with Rob Zombie but then shifted to David Bowie and The Cure. Micheal Fanti practically cleared the dance floor but a lone, completely out of place, hippy chic remained to dance with me. After that, Jazz and Venus joined me and the three of us danced together until it was time to leave.

We grabbed up the equipment and headed for the car.  Back at the hotel we all cracked open a few beers and the Black Velvet I had bought earlier. Venus is a Scotch drinker so I tried to tell her it was imported Scotch; imported from Canada. It’s actually pretty tasty stuff for cheap whiskey. We all got pretty sloppy drunk and it turned into one big narcissistic love fest. We started watching old videos of past performances, each of us only watching are own performance and sharing with each other how great we think we are. But we did come to the realization that we are a really amazing band and that we do work incredibly well together. Also, we are more than just a band, we are a family and as fucked up as we are, we need each other. Whatever happens with the IRS, even if they are able to dissolve the business and in effect, the band, the three of us are going to stick together and keep making music no matter what.

So I may not have been able to meet my objective of having sex last night but I had one other goal that I was not going to let go unmet. I was determined to go skinny-dipping in the hotel pool! The pool was right outside our hotel room door. I was shitfaced drunk. It was four o’clock in there morning and nothing was going to stop me. I stripped naked, wrapped a towel around my waist and headed for the pool. One quick dip and I was ready to call it a night. That’s were my memories end. Thankfully, that was also the end of the night’s activities.

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