Actually, February tends to be an infatuated month – a 28-day Fat Tuesday of topical gluttony – which is maybe why the blogging tends to drop off. In 2004 it was SongFight; last year, consuming media. 2006 was… being scruffy? I honestly couldn’t tell you.
I bring those three years up specifically, as they’ve dictated much of my month so far. The scruffiness aspect finally ended this morning, when I shaved off what I think (if we’re being fair) I can say was my first ever mustache. It was charming at first, and looked dashing in photos, but the prickliness of it finally got to me (just as Elise was claiming I had progressed past Brillo-pad stage, too; oh well).
The mustache was, in turn, indicative of my preoccupation with things other than self – as typically I am much too busy examining myself in the mirror to allow any such deviation from core residual self image – and those two things correspond to the other two years I mentioned above.
Like a square to a rectangle but not visa versa, SongFight is to Arcati Crisis. SongFight was perhaps the first time Gina and I masqueraded under our proper name, though we had certainly recorded together before as an entity. And, from our fours-years-ago SongFighting emerged “Moscow, Idaho,” which we played an utterly stunning version of on Saturday ever-so-shortly before my voice-losing escapade.
(“Moscow” is a curious story unto itself, but I’m saving a recap of that for when we have a better demo of the song.)
Like 2004’s before it, this February so far has been a very Arcati Crisis month. We performed three separate times, and this last one marked a major milestone that we just realized this morning: we’ve now played every one of our current songs in front of an audience. That’s sixteen tunes, which represents a nearly indescribable leap from last February when we knew just three or four.
In fact, with the exception of “Fisher Price” the songs which we now consider to be the most “solid” and “reliable” didn’t even exist as duo tunes this time last year – they were still relegated to the various demo discs and Blogathons from which they originated. Suddenly we find ourselves with thumb-twiddling time at rehearsals where we once were dreaming up new riffs to catalog tunes, and so far this month we’ve filled it with new songs and rehearsals with cello (!). Tomorrow we’ll be recording the few stragglers who haven’t yet made it onto one of our Live @ Rehearsal discs, and then I’ll be spending the rest of the month mixing.
I know that other bands have come farther in a shorter amount of time – after all, of those sixteen songs all had been written prior to 2007 – but I still can’t help but be infatuated with our progress.
Not just our progress, though – that’s an old-Peter model of infatuation, that restless addiction to revisiting a process and its product, rather than living in the present. This time I am actually infatuated with the present tense of us, and all that we are capable of. Could we have imagined in 1994 that one night we’d wind up on stage at Doc Watson’s a hair shy of last call with our friends bouncing and singing along to every word of our songs?
Well, maybe we could have, but in that mental image I probably still had my Spock haircut, which is not nearly as ravishing as the current one, AKA “Dean Winchester.”
Which, in retrospect, probably prompted the stubble.
Meanwhile, there is the aspect of 2007 that I am repeating – I’ve been very much absorbed in media consumption. It’s partially because I have been following the primary elections on various news sites, but really it’s just an input/output thing. I’m outputting riffs, harmonies, new songs, project plans, site maps, engagement party thank you notes – all manner of creativity. And if I don’t ingest and digest input from some other sources I’ll be left with nothing to output.
(Or, worse, I will return to my past-process addiction and just output recursive, painful feedback. Sort of like this post, but more shrill.)
(Okay, while we’re parenthetical already I just need to point out that I started talking about that whole input/output deal almost seven years ago, and at work we’re reading this horrific business book that I won’t even do the justice of name-checking, and it has a whole fucking chapter about how you need input in order to maintain output. Like, with a chart of a Pac-Man-esque circle eating and shitting information. I kid you not. So, yes, 20-year-old-me could teach this business guru a thing or two about a thing or two.)
(Any, mucho digression; do you see what February causes?)
My increased intake of media – particularly election coverage, which has been nigh-unavoidable the past few weeks – has re-awakened my love of media critique. Especially after nearly four years of freedom from the bonds of television I feel like I’m seeing messages for what they really are for the first time – often just inelegant, thinly-veiled agendas meant to obscure the actual meaning behind the message:
Disney loves to sell its girl-empowerment, but don’t look for it to offer a fair payout to the author behind one of its hugest properties, The Cheetah Girls.
Similarly, CNN trumpets its bottomless cadre of cell-phone equipped i-Reporters, but when one of their segment producers runs a hip, snarky blog that gets too opinionated he is promptly fired.
And, in perhaps my favorite example, our favorite brand names and supermarkets re-purposed plain old oats in increasingly portable and nutrionless forms until we are paying dozens of dollars on the pound for curiously un-oat-ish cereal bars, with MILK INCLUDED (TM).
I’m not sure if the sudden transparency is coming from me, or coming from the internet, or coming from the world at large having finally gone in for a look at its cataracts, but I’m loving it.
And, with ten days left to go, that is my February, so-far.