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leggo my ego
posted Monday, March 24, 2003 at 01:28

If you missed the big show on Friday, you really should feel sorry for yourself. It was a truly amazing event. First of all, from time to time, I really lose faith in the world as a place where good wins out over bad. That's especially true in these strange times where war and terrorism are topics of conversation more and more. But Friday night showed me once again that there is still some good left in the world.

The turnout was great and the amount of stuff that people donated was incredible. Half the time all I could do was stare at the tables in disbelief at the volume of stuff we had to auction off. I think that Mark passing away is probably one of, if not the, saddest things that I've heard. However, I think that the amount of positive energy and selflessness that took place at the show and over the past few months getting ready for the show are a true testament to the incredible spirit that Mark possessed. I'll admit that we weren't best buddies or anything, but he was definitely someone who could always make me laugh, was always interesting to talk to, and someone that I would have liked to have known better. Without getting too weird, I'll also mention that I know, without a doubt, that Mark was there. Not in some Family Circus, semi-transparent, looking-down-from-above type of way, but more as an energy in the room. An energy in everyone there who cared enough to buy a ticket or bid on an item at the auction. I can't really put my finger on it, but it was like chills or something. I felt it a few times and I'm convinced it was more than just the free beer.

The week leading up to the show was a whirlwind of activity. I had been gathering items for the silent auction for about the past two months and this was the final few days to make sure the stuff was on the way. Unfortunately most of it wasn't and I either had to pick it up or make sure it was brought down to the show. I also, at some point needed to re-learn all of the Nixon Clocks tunes. If you were at the show, you probably realized somewhere in the middle of Wrapped Around My Head that I never did get around to this.

Monday I was hit with the worst head cold I think I've ever head. It started Saturday after I snorted Bill Warnick's cat up my nose for about an hour and just kept getting worse. This was the first time that I had a cold since ending my year of interferon injections. For those of you who missed out on that, after I had surgery to remove cancer from my head, the interferon injections made me sick, like I had a really bad cold, chills, fever, etc... Well, this was the first time that I felt this way sans the drugs, so despite the fact that I was pissed about having a cold, I was happy it was really a cold and not side effects from the drugs.

Madison goes to day care twice a week, Monday & Thursday. I Like that she can spent some time beating up the kids and it also allows me to get freelance work done, go on interviews, and lately run errands associated with the concert + auction. I sent out a good three hundred emails to various people about the event over the past few weeks. Some were more PR-related, others were solicitations for donations for the auction. I got a ton of responses, and I know that many of these were forwarded along to other folks. It was fun to get back into doing some PR and marketing again. In addition to this I mailed out a ton of requests for donations via the good old fashioned US Postal Service. Monday I ran through the list of most of the people I sent stuff to and hadn't heard back from.

I decided on Tuesday that I wanted to play with the Dharma Sons. Since my stuff was going to be set up all night, I figured I'd play whether or not they wanted me there. But after a few minutes of thinking about that, it seemed to be a better idea to probably practice with them first, in case they were pulling out any old tunes that I didn't know. They were all pretty ambivalent about it, so I went over to rehearse with them. Here's the best way to get in a band that you like without being invited. Just show up. Don't even ask if you can. If you pose it as a question "When can I come over?", "Could I play with your band?", it will never work. What you need to do is just find out when and where they practice and show up. And show up with a ton of equipment. I find that if you can distract the band by making them help you carry your stuff in, you're good to go. Actually, this was the first time I played with the Dharma Sons since the ill-fated outside show over the summer, and it was a lot of fun. We should probably still have a band. Maybe we still will. I don't know.

Let me get back to that summer show for a second, because I think I gave people the wrong idea when I wrote about that after it happened. What happened was I lived in San Francisco for about 18 months. In that time I played NO music at all, although I really wanted to. It was a pretty big deal for my personally to be able to play with the Dharma Sons again after being away for so long and I was really excited about it. The show was outside in downtown Pittsburgh. It was during lunchtime and normally that wouldn't be a problem. My work was always really good about giving me time off to do band stuff, except for that day. I weaseled it so I had exactly 2 hours, and it was even technically a business meeting. When I got there there was no where to park and I had to drag all of my stuff up to the stage from my car which was double parked in a no loading zone. To make things even more crazy, Dick Cheney was in town that day so security was out of control. It was raining on and off throughout the day, and the sound crew doing the show was the worst in recorded outdoor sound crew history. We lost power on the stage twice before we went on and once during the set. There was only on guy named Henry who knew how to turn the power back on and no one could ever find him, although FINDING someone usually entails looking for someone, and LOOKING for someone usually entails doing more than sitting on the stage drinking a cardboard container of iced tea and sucking down cigarettes. We also were told we could only play a 30 minute set because Cheney was coming in. Talk about suck. So, if anyone thought I was bitter or a jerk for my earlier comments, I was disappointed. Please forgive me.

So, where the hell was I.... Oh, yeah, Dharma practice. That was a good time, We ran through a bunch of old tunes and I got to use my new, massive 88-key board. It sounded great, too. My head cold was bad enough that I couldn't sing, but I figured that would be all better by Friday. Oh, and we drank some beers. Ha ha. That was a first.

The rest of the week was spent picking stuff up, emailing, making phone calls, buying display materials, framing stuff, renting musical equipment... I also had to go through all of Mark's band photos and pick out some shots of all of the bands to display at the show. I had literally hundreds of negatives and only a few proof sheets, so I had to scan all of the negatives and then reverse the image so I could actually see them. Then I had to try to select a few shots to print. Wow, was that a task! It only took me like 6 hours to go through them. I think the selections were pretty cool. I was trying to pick some photos that were more candid, rather than the posed ones that were used for press photos and stuff. Hopefully the bands didn't mind my selections too much, One disappointment was that I didn't have negatives for the Fabulous Gunslingers proof sheets that I had. That was the band Mark played with most recently. Anyway, the shots I did pick out, I dropped off on Tuesday. There were about 50 or so. There were some funny Dharma Sons ones and some from the final Nixon Clocks shoot. I'll be posting some of these to the web soon.

Wednesday is a blur. I know I had Madi all day, I also know we were running around all day. I have no idea what we did, though. I was able to get my haircut on Thursday. This was an amazing feat because I go to this fancy-shmancy place downtown that you always have to book weeks in advance. Somehow my haircut-god Bret actually had an opening. Let me add that I am NOT cool enough to get my hair cut here. It's all models and beautiful people, and I usually come sloshing in with my normalcy and ugly up the place, but I do get the best haircuts in the universe. This guy has the most extensive collection of crazy scissors that I've ever seen. After my haircut, I notice a few busloads of police officers dressed in full riot gear pouring into the downtown streets. Apparently we're minutes away from a protest and these guys are ready for trouble. There are literally hundreds of cops lining the streets two deep. Needless to say I get the hell out of there.

Harvey was nice enough to ask me to sing some backups with the Affordable Floors. I still think he's the only guy in the band who ever really liked having me around. But, they were one of my favorite bands for many years, even before I knew them, so I wasn't going to pass that up. So Thursday night was the big Floors practice. Barry flew in from Seattle earlier in the day, so I told him to meet me over at Jeff's house. The Floors ran through the set twice and sounded great. Steve Morrison was coming in from New Orleans for the show and was going to sing the Long Winter, a tune that he wrote and sang on their first album, but he missed his flight. So I sang it. Ha! Karaoke with the Floors! That was fun. When Barry got there he asked if he could sing the call and response part to Shelter, but the song wasn't in the set. But they played it anyway right then, just for kicks. After that we called out tunes for about an hour and just goofed around. Eighty-eight, Running Dry, A Sun Will Sing, Waiting, the Sounding, 1000 Days, Walk into the Night, A Railroad Song, Lullaby, many others. It was really cool. All we needed was a fog machine. It seemed apparent that they were enjoying playing again and hopefully they'll do another show. I suggested that we do a Nixon Clocks Affordable Floors show later in the year. I'll keep on them about it.

Thursday night Barry and I went out for some drinks and met up with Mark Adams, one time bass played for the Nixon Clocks. He was the guy who played on Clear Creek Road and Signs and Reasons and was in Cat Ballou with Mark Pluchinsky. Doug Noss and Josh from Cat Ballou came with him. We just sat around and looked at old photos that Barry brought with him. Those are classic and will be on the Clocks site sometime very soon!

There's nothing better for your voice than a night of drinking in a smoky bar. Friday morning I awoke to find my voice was gone. It's a shame, too. The week before I was finding that my voice was actually sounding pretty good. I lost a lot of my strength and range after my surgery two years ago, and for the first time since then I was able to hit some notes I thought I'd never hear come out of my mouth again! In all honesty, minus the night of drinking, my head cold was in full-effect, so even if I would've stayed home with a chicken soup IV and didn't speak, I would have still had no voice.

I wrasteld with my laptop all morning to recognize my printer so I could take those to the show and packed up all of the auction stuff I had at my place. Around noon Grammy Rust came over to pick up Madi and drop off Matty. Me an Matt then headed out to run some last minute errands and go to Rosebud. We still had to pickup some junk for the auction and stop at the place downtown to get the Polaroid photo enlargements, the focal-point of the auction.

We can load in at 3:30, so we get down there a bit early. From the second we get in the door until, well, right now, seems like it's in super-fast motion. Since I'm juggling trying to be in charge of the auction AND being a keyboard player in two of the bands, I'm running back and forth between the stage, the back door and the auction area. The longest that I stopped in one place would be first the Nixon Clocks set and then right after the Dharma Sons set. Other than that I was running all over the place. I wish I could've stopped to actually see who was all there and talk to some people that I hadn't seen in ages, but considering that I was trying to help with the event, it's ok. My old pal Kathy, from my WPTS days basically ran the auction - thankfully, because I was so distracted all night, lord knows what would've happened without her there. Bree Freeman brought a ton of stuff down and then ended up both manning the auction tables AND MCing the show. There were countless others who helped out, even without asking, and it was really great that people were so quick to help out.

Nathan showed up and the Clocks got together backstage to practice for a bit. Phil Harris was there filming the event for channel 13 and taped us going over the songs. We hadn't played together in about 5 years, so it was kind of strange being back together and going over a set list. WE sang some stuff and it felt pretty good. Despite the fact that none of us remembered the middle eight to Palisades and I completely blanked on the solo to Wrapped, I think the set went pretty well. The order could have been different, but for what it was, I think it served its purpose. It was really nice to play those songs again and be on the same stage with those guys. I know towards the end of the band, there was nothing I wanted more than for that band to stop, but when we hit the first note of Miss Courageous, all of those negative thoughts and feelings were gone. It was a great feeling to sit there again, like I had on hundreds of nights before that. I really hope we can do it again.

The Dharma Sons set was intense. I think I bruised four of my fingers during it. That's the downside of weighted keys. Again, after that set I asked myself and the band "Why'd we stop playing again?". No one was sure.

Steve Morrison missed his second flight so I was asked to sing the Long Winter. That was pretty cool, although by the time the Floors were set to play, my voice was G-O-N-E. I was even thinking about bailing on singing backup. Ha, like you could keep me off of the stage. I will admit that I had no idea where to stand or if I should stay on stage if I was singing. I felt that by that point in the show people were probably sick of seeing me. If you were, I apologize. But I WAS in all three of those bands!!! Despite what some fans might remember, I played keyboards for the Floors for over a year. I do promise, however if they do decided to play another show, I won't join them on stage unless it's for a final encore. My thoughts on the Floors set - Fog Machine! Please play again.

Beyond that, the show is a blur. I got out of there about 3 and had to go back down the next day before 2 to pick up the big head from Graffiti. Even now, I'm not sure what all happened or even who all was there that I missed. Anyway, it seems that the show was a big success and we raised a decent amount of cash. And I hope it makes everyone stop and think about life and hopefully appreciate everything a little more. I know that I have made contact again with people that I haven't talked to in years over the past few weeks, and hopefully these are contacts that I can keep in touch with even beyond this event.

Life is short, too short. I miss playing music, and I miss my old friends that I used to play music with. I know that my having cancer changed my mind about a lot of things in my life. But it wasn't until Mark passed away that I really got it. I dodged a bullet, a BIG one. And maybe I only dodged it for now, maybe I'll be clear for a long time... I have no idea. One thing's for certain... whatever energy Mark had that made things better and made things brighter, that has been passed along to many people, myself included. And I know that I'll think about him a lot. And the next time I get on stage, I'll appreciate it more than I have before. Thanks Mark. You will be missed.

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