Adrian Guerra, former drummer of doom band Bell Witch, died this week. His ex band’s music demands patience and is often very stretched out, dramatic and all consuming. It is like imposing architecture, in a way.
I didn’t know Guerra like some of my other friends in the metal scene who posted some beautiful tributes to him on Facebook, but you can tell his life made a big impact on people. And while he didn’t play on that many records, they were strong pieces of art.
Does anyone dare to not call that a successful creative life?
We live these days in a culture that increasingly rewards impatience and lack of depth.
Why aspire to be famous if not for any real reason? Do you think even $$$ lasts forever?
Al from Ministry had a great section of his autobiography where he was
getting at it being kind of toxic to demand artists are always releasing
albums non stop. I mean, it is cool if you can hack it and there is
consistent quality…but usually like anything in life you need to take
breaks and live a little, experience things…like how some young people have
dreamer’s eyes that haven’t been stamped into dead X’s yet but…they don’t
know anything…except for maybe in their cellular capacity of being perhaps
more open to the universe, eager to soak up shit older people have become
maybe more guarded against? Hmmm, but some younger people are guarded also
and closed off these days/ adopting cynicism because they don’t want to seem
uncool…though the millennial trends of optimism and Bern feeling perhaps run
counter to this.
Anyhow…I think perhaps the nature of fame has indeed changed. It isn’t 15
minutes like Warhol. It’s impressing people these days by who can hold on to
their terrain…usually tabloid fodder types who get in the news cycle for
the most empty styrofoam of reasons. Suddenly they are heroes for appearing
consistently in news with no calories or ass fat pictures.
But because we look at them a lot we are tricked into thinking that is an achievement. Or that they should be our leaders or spokespeople.
The scandals and
highlights of a few months ago are quickly spit out and forgotten after some sort of
chewing, but it all happens in a matter of moments. And whatever
sticks around is like non biodegradable plastic, but we worship it because we
are startled the same faces are there. If with increasing levels of botox.
I grew up without electricity for many years in a country farm house, so it
was really something to spend time with a book. That, or a run in the woods
to a stream bed…that became your world. It follows that ever advancing
choices of channels, artists, voices, chatter in a hyper media environment
would mean more people get their news from their own bubble…making
bobblehead mini me Trumps of all the Donalds supporters, for example. Hyper
feeding information sugar water from the queen ant’s psychic cable wire
mutant cyber teets, so to speak.
I believe (never Beliebe) in passion. Patti Smith clutching her sole worn copy
of Rimbaud to her chest, the words imprinting on her soul for the rest of her
life. Growing up with that one album or a few cds you lived completely, like
loving the shit out of Siamese Dream way before you heard Billy Corgan say
crazy shit about why the rich and entitled shouldn’t pay taxes and had a hard time feeling the alternative nation hippy vibes from “Disarm” the same ever again.
Even photographs used to mean something else. A special occasion or something to be avoided in some cultures ‘cuz it ‘captured the soul’. Now they are mostly obnoxious and remove the soul entirely.
In metal, we love records often that defy mortality. Dream Theater or Opeth fans really feel like anything is possible when they hear the band’s latest twenty minute prog songs, for example.
Is it so hard to make lasting impressions that we need super long songs (nothing against that style). Or super big “commercial rock” illusions that are hits for a year or so and then fade? Is this all just human nature? A back and forth argument?
Um, on the matter of leaving impressions. Consider Joan Didion…Yes, consider her famous writing was often about feeling and impressions being more important than the plot, at least if you believe her essay “Why I Write”…the image of a hot climate, a woman in sunglasses
sipping a drink and looking around sort of detached…today everything is
brief impressions, in 140 characters…but none of them last. We used to have
diaries but now it is snapchat and periscope. Or Instagram where of course
you can get a glimpse into someone’s life but more often than not it is a
visual diary that becomes more and more mundane as people post crappy content
as their self control withers.
We have to learn to be alone, because we almost never are anymore. But also
don’t generalize and pursue ideas like “all love is dead”, “nihilism is the
best”, “use everyone to get ahead“, etc.
I love very passionately so often feel emptier if I don’t have that kind of
feeling in my life. But you can’t chase it. That’s maybe why I am defensive
if people don’t believe me. Part of it. But also, you have to love yourself.
And it can’t be about needing an audience.
Jesus is there and knows if you are a good rapper, right? So at the end of
the day you are covered even if you don’t have wall to wall bling and fans
knocking down your door. 8,000 likes per post for some garbage picture of you
in front of a water fountain with some other fuckface celebrity no one will
give a shit about in ten years while you’d be better served trying to write
your own Horses album. Or Life Is Killing Me. Or even “Bad Romance”. Cuz let’s face it, Gaga is
better when she is worrying less about fame and concentrating more on the
songwriting. And Metallica, certainly so!
But we all live in this weird world now of a million windows winking on and
off, tunnels that lead to deeper delusion or illumination depending on where
we burrow. Those amazing moments we all have a shared catharsis or
realization for the better.
Now we have holograms of performers to keep them frozen in time and with us. But it’s fake. Recalling and re-using that Campbell’s Soup label replica of Tupac or Whitney or Kurt Cobain or Elvis. You should have to also have holograms of them at their worst or most bottomed out or fattest or whatever. But…no one wanted the old Elvis stamp.
David Bowie was so chameleon-like and could adapt and flow and stay prominent, but the difference was he made great music. I saw a post today about Kim K and a baby snapchat thing and I immediately thought of Kim Kelly, the metal writer…until I laughed and saw it was about Kardashian. I was like ,”Kim had a kid? And on Snapchat? No way.” But it is funny because the brain goes first where you are more familiar, in my case people in the metal scene or journalism circles.
It’s funny how Andy Warhol…well, his diaries (edited by Pat Hackett)…it’s a huge fucking book. Either because he often was getting his thoughts down and that was natural for him, or because he actually wanted to make something lasting documenting his life and times. Pretty funny considering many people associate Andy with the fleeting nature of things or “pop” recontextualizing or, for the very cynical, as a hack (he wasn’t).
It is simply something to be alive. To know you are breathing shared air. To fall foolishly in love even if you can’t articulate yourself or prove it. To try really hard to make your own “November Rain” grandiose video on a shoe string budget and having it suck or coming up with a simple idea that somehow works wonderfully and goes viral.
Warhol knew a great idea (of bad for that matter) could come from anywhere. Regardless of pedigree or credentials.
…but it all still gets forgotten eventually.
All of it.
Like Ozymandias by Shelley…what will stand the test of time? Don’t forget to actually live your own life, even if you can never cultivate the following you hoped for, or aren’t the next Jordan or Kobe (not that anyone should want to be Kobe) or whatever.
I still have ambition to write and create music, but also have long since realized that the world will keep turning if I don’t. And that Master Of Puppets will still exist and probably be better than anything I ever make. I wonder if Warhol would’ve liked Load best for the cover art. Or maybe….Lulu? Hahaha. Cuz his Velvet Underground pal was on it.
“Dreaming of Nosferatu while trapped on the island of Dr Moreau…”
So let’s all just try and communicate better, stop shouting for space, try and be more organic and loving, inclusive, compassionate and…at times grandiose as we reach for the stars? Isn’t that human nature? Sure, but let’s remember we are all gonna die someday anyway. Hahaha. So kill the fucking ego, look at the people around you or within yourself and try and follow your own compass.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.