now playing: the o’jays, “for the love of money”
before i started this post, i checked the counter on the blog – and was pleasantly surprised to see that people still do, on occasion, stop by to see if i’ve had anything to say.
sorry to have disappointed you for so long.
i know that, the last time this space went neglected for an extended period of time, that i talked about the futility of trying to cover everything that happens during long lulls like this…and believe me, it’s probably even more pointless this time to swing for that particular fence than it might’ve been at any other point that i took a hiatus from writing here.
the simple fact of the matter is that i just haven’t been terribly inspired to try and put any of what’s been going on recently into post-worthy words…not that all of it’s been bad, or that i have any secrets to keep, or anything of that nature…
…it’s just that sometimes life, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily warrant a great deal of discussion.
the first phase of the exodus from shillington has been complete for some time now, and it’s been a huge relief to be out of that house. it was sobering to realize that everyone who lived with me, either at the time or at some point, never liked living there from the time we moved in. interestingly, though, in the case of the kids – they seemed to be OK with it when it was on the table. but, then again, so was i. and that certainly changed over time. between floods, overloaded circuit breakers, dishwashers bursting into flames, and a furnace that provided a perpetual source of frustration, the novelty of the extra elbow room wore off pretty quickly. and over time, there were far too many reasons to be annoyed..and ultimately, the sinking feeling in my stomach that i used to get every time i’d put my key in the door of the house in west reading followed me to this house as well.
i gave my notice in something of a knee-jerk fashion, before i’d even found a place to live…i settled on an old carriage-house conversion that i liked a lot more the first time i saw it than i did any of the subsequent times i saw it, and eventually decided that i was making the same mistake moving there that i’d made moving into the shillington house, and i recanted on that one as well.
this writing finds me with 98 percent of my worldly belongings in storage, and in about as transitory a place as i could possibly be in – a lot of priority and focus is being thrown at the new studio space, and it’s been really hard to think a great deal about my domestic situation…because it’s on autopilot at the moment. between everything else that’s going on in my life right now, just having a place to sleep is enough, really. it’s a little unsettling, in a place that (save for the presence of my laptop on the kitchen table) contains nary a clue that i even live there, but i haven’t really had a great deal of time to dwell on that. i’m not saying that it’s uncomfortable…it just feels like an extended sleepover, more so than “home”, per se. i don’t foresee that as being a permanent situation, but it’s the way it is now.
after three months of looking (in varying degrees of intensity), i’ve settled on a studio space, and have given a lot of thought to how i want to approach this. after a lot of thought, a great deal of discussion, and more than a few mutual beers, a plan has emerged.
i had originally thought that i’d love to do this as a partnership with blake…and was willing to do so without any real financial obligation on his part…but i didn’t really hear his eyes light up over the phone when i discussed it with him.
the guys from shame, however, were another story.
a while back, pete has asked me to do a live remote recording for the band of a show at shippensburg university, which turned out better than any of us had expected. i had also agreed to bring them into the old basement space for some demos before it became obvious that the spaces’ life expectancy had shortened almost overnight. at any rate, we began talking in earnest about the possibility of my taking the helm for their next record at that point in time, and i told them what my plan had been – to find a space and move the basement into it for use on my own projects…not to open a commercial space, but to have a place where i would work on sessions and the occasional project for friends or for people whose music moved me – as opposed to taking sessions from Emo Death Polka-Core bands to keep the lights on.
see, here’s the thing.
i’ve made peace with my place in the world, i think. i’ve accepted some core facts about myself, and how i approach music, and what it is that makes me happy and what it is that weighs me down…and i think i have a clearer vision of what my real talents are than maybe i ever have.
accepting these things has freed me from some delusions that i harbored in the past, with regard to what i was or wasn’t capable of. i still enjoy playing and singing in front of audiences (when they’re audiences, and not just a group of people with whom i’m sharing common cigarette smoke at a given time), but i’m nowhere near as ambitious as i once thought i was. i’m not willing to do the things that it takes to climb further up than where i’m at at the moment. which means that i write my little songs (when motivated to), i play and record them, and i make them available to the small but devoted group of people who remain interested in what it is that i do.
one of the things that i think i learned about myself during the brief making of the “basement” record was that i really enjoy working in a studio environment. i always have, but i really felt energized by doing that album (i must’ve…i don’t think i slept more than 20 hours during the two weeks i was putting the record together). and in talking to pete and the rest of the guys from the band, i felt that same creative spark that i’d managed to rekindle during the making of that little eighteen day record.
so – to get to the point – we’ve mutually decided that we’re going to partner in the building and the operation of the new studio, with myself handling all the technical issues and aspects. they’ll have access to the building as a rehearsal space and will be given rite of refusal to the calendar, and i’ll be able to use the space as my own creative hub, to bring other artists in for projects, and to work on my own stuff there. costs will be split accordingly, and projects that we work on together will be handled as such, as opposed to lumping it all together.
everyone – really, EVERYONE – involved in this venture is stoked. the first time we all went to look at the space, i was a little worried that they were expecting to get a little more than what they were getting, but they actually thought it’d be worse than i’d said, because of my downselling…but they couldn’t wait to get started. girlfriends were welcome, and decorating discussions quickly ensued – everyone is excitedly wading through the sea of possibilities that this venture presents, and it’s exciting.
and daunting, as well…there’s so much to consider, so much to think about, so much to plan for…and i’m reading message boards on the internet, asking questions, and going over stuff in my head trying to make sure i haven’t forgotten any considerations…and i’ve gotten a couple of ideas in the time since we started going in on a regular basis that i’m trying to incorporate into the overall layout and design of the space, too. one of them is to put a recessed cavity into the back wall of the live room large enough to isolate a guitar amp inside of, that would double as an elevated shelf of sorts in the storage room directly behind it, which will be right next to the bathroom…which raises questions about where the door will go that opens into the bathroom, which raises questions about whether or not a desk is a viable option for that room or not…
you get the picture, i’m sure.
the primary concern for all of us, heading into the venture, was soundproofing. there’s a house next door, about thirty feet from the wall that faces it, and there’s another side of the building that, while unrented at the moment, could pose a problem depending upon what kind of tenant ends up there.
so, with that in mind, the guys came down on sunday afternoon and met with the owner of the building and myself…and we had them set up inside and play for about an hour or so while we walked around the building and the grounds, discussing how we’d deal with the trouble spots. thankfully, there were few of them that wouldn’t be either reduced to insignificance or completely eliminated by the work we were already planning to do. everyone was damn near buoyant when we realized how easily we were getting off on the sound issue, and they’re even more eager to get started now.
to that end, we’re all meeting there tomorrow night to start scraping the floors and taking down the one wall that will be history when it’s time to step in and start finishing off the space and doing the structural work that’s bearing down upon us.
and that’s all that’ll be said about all that in this space, before the discussion moves over to the “noise” blog…the one whose title will become irrelevant as this venture moves forward.
i’m posting the text of my most recent email update to the “news” section of the tomhampton.com site…and so as to avoid saying it for a third time, i’ll simply say that you should stop over there if you want to catch that particular blurb…if it didn’t somehow turn up in your emailbox, that is.
on a totally unrelated note, i finally bit the bullet and decided to testdrive the google desktop sidebar, and i have to say – i’m getting quite a bit of amusement out of the news headlines that pop up.
here’s a great one….
“US Urges Myanmar to Release Prisoners
Washington Post 20 min ago”
personally, i’d like to see this as a follow up:
“Myanmar Tells US To Practice What They Preach
CNN.com 3 min ago”
wouldn’t that be a hoot?
in other recent news, jayda has made her first official appearance on a released product…it would appear that she’s going to be reluctantly dragged into this business at some point, whether she likes it or not. the producer she’s working with has assembled a small posse of really talented folks and he put out a compilation of their tracks last month. i arranged a meeting between him and dean so that he could get his discs duplicated, and then i drove them down on the day that the discs were finished to pick them up.
it was very much like christmas, to watch them all pile back into the van, visibly excited about actually being able to hold the finished disc in their hands while they listened to the music on the way home. there really isn’t another feeling like that sense of accomplishment that you have for those few minutes when you’ve put all that work into something that is, up until that very moment, an intangible thing. it’s all music up until then…sounds, ideas, song snippets, scattered pieces of arrangements for entities that are really only fleeting until they’ve been committed to a physical form. there’s something about holding that disk, with the artwork and the jewel case and all, that gives your intangible creation a form of validity. it shouldn’t necessarily be that way, i know, but it is…when you have the disk in your hand, it’s suddenly legitimate and not something that has been floating around on the platters of a hard drive or in the oxide of a magnetic tape for the fulfillment and pleasure of a select few people.
last night i stopped over to see her for a bit, and she told me that earlier this week, she was sitting in front of the A-Plus convienence store across the street from the school and a car passed on 13th street that was blasting one of the songs she sang on from their stereo. she said she heard herself coming from the car as it was going by. she’s also becoming quite the celebrity among the other kids at school as a result of it as well.
other stuff – a few weeks ago, on a sunday night, i got an email from another planet…or what could very well have been another planet. it was from someone who i last had occasion to communicate with almost exactly twenty years ago.
she was, to my eyes, the most beautiful woman i’d ever seen up to that point in my life. she was kind and eager to talk about things deeper than the usual topical stuff, and we seemed to have a lot in common. we became fast friends and spent a lot of time together…in a place like wales, it’s not hard to find things to do if you’re not of the easily bored variety. we’d take the train to swansea or cardiff for the day, drive to tenby and walk the beach, or just sit in her car overlooking newgale and listen to music and talk.
at twenty, your interpersonal skills aren’t necessarily their most sharply honed, and that was certainly true of me. i didn’t have a great deal of occasion to express how i felt about her, and it seemed to me as if there were no need to formally declare anything…it seemed obvious enough to me, and i thought (yes, assumed) that she felt the same things i did, saw us in the same light as i did…but this turned out not to be true.
then, out of the clear blue yonder, word gets back to me that she’s planning on getting married – to someone else. someone not even in the picture, as far as i knew. some dude that she knew at her previous duty station whom she scarely saw fit to mention, except in an anecdotal sense.
i was devastated. i couldn’t understand any of it. it would’ve been different if it had been someone who’d been courting her under my nose, but i didn’t see this coming at all. at ALL. i was coasting along, thinking all was good with the world, and BANG.
of course, i’m not the only person whos’ ever been in that situation…but when you’re in the throes of it, you feel as if you are.
anyway – that’s a story that’s been told before, in every possible incarnation….
flash forward twenty years to an innocuous email, sent after finding me via the internet…she and her husband, the bloke who swooped in from outta nowhere and stole her away from me, are still together, although – as fate would have it – things haven’t necessarily been what she’d hoped. i won’t give her entire story away here, nor will i hint that she was on some sort of high-fidelityesque, “what does it all mean” quest. in fact, i never asked her, point blank, what it was that drove her to seek me out. we exhanged a couple of weeks’ worth of emails, though, and got to say all the things that we didn’t say, and it was actually a lot more comfortable than i’d have thought it would have been on paper.
there was a guy…a guy that i used to be…who would have revelled in what he perceived to be her discontent, who would have used the whole episode as an ego ointment. the fact that he’s gone now, and has been replaced by a much more contented and peaceful version of himself is probably a big part of the reason why this reunion waited to happen until it did. i have no axe to grind with her. she made her choices, and i can only imagine that i’m the better for it. i don’t know what my life would have been like if she’d chosen differently and we’d ended up together, but i can look at my life as it’s turned out and feel confident that everything that did happen happened for the right reasons.
the conversations gave way to an invitation to come visit, which she took me up on…to my surprise, i have to admit. i wouldn’t have thrown it out there if i weren’t sincere about it, and i was curious as to whether the easy, relaxed atmosphere of the emails that had flown back and forth would translate in real life. i was curious as to what she’d look like after all this time, how we’d behave around one another when confronted in real time with each others’ company. as it turned out, it was all fine. she got here on a friday evening and i picked her up with a carload of offspring – we went for ice cream while dylan interrogated her…
“so,” he says…”what are your intentions?”
“yes. what are your intentions with my father?”
if there was any tension on anyones’ part up to that point, it was gone with that one remark. that kid is incredible.
saturday, she accompanied dylan and i to the philadelphia guitar show, sunday we went to the studio while shame set up their gear and played for our maiden soundcheck, then she came with wendy and i to philadelphia where we were mixing the song that i had been working on with skip denenberg for the past few weeks. i think that, by the time we’d deposited her back at her hotel in the wee hours of monday morning, we’d crammed about as much into a weekend as it was possible to…without any real time for revisiting the past (save for a saturday night foray through over 20 years’ worth of photo albums and loose pictures that i didn’t manage to maintain consciousness through).
if i had to point at one thing, one characteristic, one quirk that kinda freaked me out (and her as well, judging from her reaction to same said quirk), it would be just how little she remembers about that time. and i don’t mean things like what color sweater she was wearing on the train to cardiff the day we saw “down and out in beverley hills”, either…i mean literally looking at pictures of herself in certain scenarios and not remembering having been there at all. seriously.
now, it’d be one thing if her life had been an absolute whirlwind in the time since we’d seen each other last, going through husbands and living in europe for a couple of years, backpacking through the alps and whatnot…but from what i’ve been told, nothing could be further from the truth. therefore, i don’t really have any barometer for how i should take this whole amnesia thing – was i really that utterly and completely forgettable?
well, apparently, if that is the case, it wasn’t the factor in this particular situation. apparently, this phenomena is not uncommon to her. it happens every so often. i think, though, that she was really surprised at how little she recalled.
one thing that was funny that’s come from being back in touch with her…one night a couple of weeks ago it occured to me that i’d spoken to pat, chris, samantha, wendy, and jill on the phone all within hours of one another. i told wendy that i’d had a conversation with every woman that i’d ever had a significant relationship with in a 24 hour period. of course, kathy swanson harris was missing from that list, but i’m not so sure as to whether that’s a conversation that’ll ever happen. god only knows whatever happened to her.
anyway, i have pictures that i want to add soon, but i have to get them all into the same computer in order to do so…so i guess i’ll talk to you folks around fourth of july or so?
before i go, a quick dylan moment for you….
he and i are sitting at the table in the dining room at wendys’…me working on some audio stuff on the laptop, he doing his homework directly across from me.
the shadow of the overhead light hits his face in such a manner that a shadow on his upper lip is even more apparent than normal.
“look up at me a minute, dude,” i say. he obliges. “come over here a minute.”
he gets up and walks around the edge of the table, and i run my index finger across his upper lip.
he breaks into the typical dylan SEG (shit eatin’ grin), and says to me, “you should see my stomach”.
wendy hears this from the sofa at this point, starts giggling, and says, “oooooooooh….does somebody have a happy trail?”
dylan, deadpan as ever, says, “no….
….it’s more of a happy cul-de-sac.”