Writing a musical with Daren Taylor. Recorded the first five songs over the last few weeks, with some help on vocals from my buddy Grace McLean.
We’re Doomed occurs towards the end of the play when the merger of the Internet and all phone services appears to go horribly awry. People, gasping for tech like fish out of water, begin turning into zombies. And they rap about it a bit.
You may ask, and yes: for a number of years now I’ve been hiding it in my basement. I tell people that the bathroom is broken. I put up caution tape.
We found it in the woods near Charleston, West Virginia — I’m not sure how near, but in West Virginia, and definitely in the woods (it’s a small state, actually) — and we brought it back, two summers ago, with plans to share it. But, for fear or from bad omens, Donte was gone by next morning, had left town. This is what I let myself believe.
I thought about getting rid of it. Or selling it to the government (because, geez, what power). But, like an underbrush of debt, spirits of sentimental attachment creep in and add value to useless things. And so I took down the sign on it (I thought it looked tacky, was drawing all the wrong kinds of attention) and told people the bathroom was broken. I put up caution tape.
I’ve been back to the same woods twice since then — Maybe not the same: but in West Virginia, and definitely in the woods — and I’ve never found anything near as nice. An old car with a magic odometer, a trick wall with hidden bells, but nothing really to brag about.
Here on Corporate Mars, things are going real fine. We take turns with the calligraphy – “a trowel and an hour” and all that. It’s on all the posters. There are many posters to remind us of the point. You can get your hands chopped off if you try to chip your name into the surface of Mars. In the grooves that we’re plowing out. The posters say that this affects the way the sun glints off the grooves. Which ruins the whole point. Here on Corporate Mars, we’ve gotten pretty far into it. There are parties each month and there are pictures from the boss’s bosses to show us the progress. Some of the guys at the last board meeting were pretty funny. They dressed up like the guys from Corporate Venus and pretended to raid our board meeting, and then some other guys, who were probably in on it now that I think about it, shot at them and killed them. We’re pretty much best at the teamwork thing and carrying about our output. Go Corporate Mars!
Someone said today That the process of creation Is the bridge between Science and Art And I wonder if that’s In the sense that it’s a miracle: Because creation does happen Even though it cannot. And because Energy may not be Created nor destroyed I’m forced to admit that We’re miracles of Conversion. Meaning that We’re minor gods Meaning that We’re, On a molecular basis, Immortal.
Here on Corporate Mars, we get a bit of free time between our “Trowel and an Hour” hours. Most of the time we can walk where we please, as long as we’re picking up garbage as we go. You can pretty much check out all of the desert and they’ll give you some water and a knap sack to pick up trash with. There’s a lot of trash on Mars. Stray rocks and stuff. Piles of dirt and stuff. Lots of things that affect what were really driving at here at Corporate Mars, I’m told. One time even – I can’t even believe this! – One time, I was out on the tundra and I found this life raft. It was all beat up and I thought it was beautiful. Boy, was I wrong! It was this little row boat and it’d been there maybe for a real long time and it’s oars were gone, probably carried off by these heavy winds that were almost knocking me over. The winds’ll knock you over out there, and I’m big. There were lots of books in the life raft, lots of things that looked spectacular. I thought it was something amazing. Shows you what I know. I called it in to Corporate Mars Offices – No, not the Corporate Mars Offices! Who do you think I am? – It was a smaller division of Corporate Mars Offices and they told me to send it away with the beams we’re given for this sort of thing, like in case we need to collapse caves that we find when they have pictures in them, or to clear the bones that used to line the eastern slope of Olympus Mons. I understood though. They said it didn’t fit with the history we were trying to create here on Corporate Mars. Which really defeats the whole point. I’m told that, at one time, people evolved with their stories, that the stories mostly remained the same and individual people climbed up them toward their respective heavens, building entire civilizations on some Good News or a really fabulous idea. But I’m told we don’t do that anymore. Because we’re not savages anymore, right?
Someone said today That there are small gods In everyday magic: In our ability To process gases, To create babies, In the existence Of Family And of Affection. And they said that Art is a conversion And Science is A study of conversion, But one pays better And keeps us facing in one direction.
Here on Corporate Mars, to help with the kind of grand scale stuff I hear that we’re famous for, we’ve got a thing called “A Trowel and an Hour,” and it’s pretty simple and pretty much the only thing I have to do. “The Good You Can Do with a Trowel and an Hour,” is pretty much the idea. See, we all play a part, and my part is that I get a trowel and some specific instructions and for an hour – No, not just one hour a day, multiple hours throughout the day. I’m not some slacker. – For one hour I dig out our point. Our message. For one hour I really go to work on ol’ Mars, “crafting,” like the posters say. “Crafting the Future that Will Eclipse the Past.” And I don’t put my own name in. I’m not greedy. And I don’t ask what we’re going for, other than quality of course, because I’m not nosy. Really, I just spend My Trowel Hours working hard, because… Well, there were some rumors going around that Corporate Venus, those jerks, that they’re getting pretty close to having it all spelled out, real big. I mean, having their point, done. I heard they were doing it with the clouds somehow. Smoke stacks spelling it out, big freak-black fog floating around in the Yellow. I heard they were nearly finished and I also heard that they were already done, and waiting. I know were close. They keep saying so at the parties each month. Saying we just got to work a little harder and we’ll get it soon. So I dig faster, and I dig harder, and I clean up more trash that’s junking up our past. Which will soon be eclipsed. By our future. I’m told. If Corporate Venus gets there first, I just don’t know what we’ll do. Probably we’ll have to kill them. But I’m not too, too worried. Because we’ve got a good strong team here at Corporate Mars, and when God gets around to checking out what we’ve been up to, I think he’s going to like what he sees.
DC Pierson is a friend to many, hero to most, aphrodisiac to far too few. He is that rare sort of positive humor - a wit that stands among us, our feet in the mud, laughing about something on the horizon. He’s a good and funny man and deserves your attention. And, more importantly, you deserve him. Cuz you’re great.
This is what he wrote January 2nd:
And I think that’s what I’m getting at, if anything, about this year and next year. I hope we all, and I don’t just mean people I know, I mean everybody, keep trying to live the kind of lives that engender these sorts of weird connections where we look around the room and go “how the fuck did I get here?” in a great way. I hope we mix it up. Have surreal experiences. Get really wide open, knowing full well that when we are that open we are way more likely to get disappointed and hurt but also knowing it’s the only way we’ll ever get anywhere, and it will either be worth it, or we will look back on things and go “I still wouldn’t have done it any other way.”
I hope we give people the benefit of the doubt, I hope we look each other right in the eye, I hope we see the potential for adventure in everything. I want us to introduce new friends to old friends, and then we all hop on mythical beasts and go fight our way through hell and halfway through we turn around and go “Not only are these people great assets in this fight through hell, but they’re getting along famously.”
Like a sloppy hooker with plenty of gumption we did our job and got the damn thing up.
Twelfth Night is active. Sir Toby rides again.
We had a good response last night, including some very humbling praise from an old friend and company member. It was especially satisfying because - due to contracts and the like - we only rehearsed for two weeks before the holidays, then teched this week for all of 3 days. Last night was only our second show in full tech conditions.
That said, I raced through the thing like a ball of fire, though lacking some key precision. The fact that people felt the positivity and intention of the cast and show is great, considering that I know just where and what I need to tighten up. It gives me hope for an enlightening and exciting run.
The people are getting leery. They stare at the sky now. The clouds seem less seamless, steam filled and peerless in their intrigue.
Bears are gathering at the foot of the forests, peering towards our metal obelisks through binoculars they’ve captured and with short, sharp nods of anticipation. Birds’ve been gone for weeks. The rats took the last few taxis south yesterday.
There’s something magnetic in the sky and something iron in our eyes and something wrong is coming this way, quick.
I’ll make no predictions and I will hold no elections, but thanks just the same for meeting me here. It’s dark out, and I needed you.
On a lark - on the bird’s actual fucking back, y’all - I participated in last year’s RPM Challenge (http://www.rpmchallenge.com) as a fake band called the Licks. The ‘challenge’ part of this whole deal is to write and record an entire record in one month.
My buddy Marian and I have been talking music for years (we are - often bored - co-workers) and at the time I was reading up on Scritti Politti and their early years of artistic council-ism - structuring themselves as a band beyond instrumentalists, having thoughtful, non-musician members offer suggestions and shape the music. So I drafted up a bunch of tracks, Marian edited and suggested, and my buddy Grace McLean leant her songbird voice.
Over all, I was decently happy with the album. Their are some real clunkers on there, luckily spaced by a few tunes I’m somewhat proud of. Salazar’s one of those few that floated on a bit past it’s original sketch, and it was featured on NPR last Spring as a part of All Songs Considered.
I’ve been making fake bands for a long time now - when I’ve had a batch of songs that didn’t fit a main project and a span of time that was surprisingly free - mostly because I like the feeling of having a full album of tunes to show off without having to log the gigging hours. Both The Hey! and Terrordactyl (my current bands) came from such projects, in fact. Haven’t done this much since High School, tho. Not a ton of free time these days.
Salazar started as a Beck-rip riff (I know, I know). I’d wanted to do a half-Midi, half rough punk acoustic track for a while. Grace makes that chorus worthwhile.
There are Ghosts in the wires beneath the city and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s heard them. In the morning time, the real morning, before coffee exists, there’s a crackle between stations, something light and sharp and strong that echoes the tunnel and twitches me funny.
Lights underground, places that lack vents or windows: It’s strange to come up for air, even in my mind, to think it’s fake day always here and above the ant farm grave system there pounds and hangs the dark. To know that this world that should know only that suffocating dirt dusk should be so falsely lit. I think the Ghosts must know too. They are frightening in response, but that comforting sort of frightening. Sort of naive and soft. Sort of exciting.
Anyway. It’s far better, here, I find, with these Ghosts. Rather than sea Ghosts. Those are lonely sorts of things, spoiled by a natural living, forced through no adaptation - save death I suppose. They just wouldn’t budge. These fellows, though, these Ghosts in the wires beneath the city… Yes. Thank you. Like the night radio watchman you guide me home. Or at least you keep me awake till I get there.
Wrote this for New York Neo-Classical’s production of 12th Night last Spring. Recorded most of it last night somewhere between 6 and 2:30. Mr. Brandon Uranowitz on the vox. Melissa Lusk tickled keys and made grilled cheese.
Check out more about the company at newyorkneo.org. Great group of weirdos.