February 2010

Some time ago, my good friend Opus and I went to see David Byrne at the Radio City Music Hall. Byrne was kicking off his Everything That Happens Will Happen Today tour. After the show, we got to meet one of the dancers. A couple weeks later, we all hung out again after their taping at The Colbert Report. And at the end of that summer, there was another performance, a free one in Prospect Park.

This set of shows, and the small gatherings around it, felt really great–really warm. I’d always wanted to pay some kind of homage to that. More recently, I finished a painting. This is the largest one I’ve done–4′ x 6′–I’m pretty happy with it.

If you haven’t picked up Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, I highly recommend it. It’s become one of my favorite albums in no time flat, and the song Life Is Long is absolutely beautiful.

I’ve gotta give Opus, his friend Mark, and Natalie huge shout-outs for making this series of performances such a good time for me.

I graduated college back in 2000, and back then I was still writing down a good deal of my dreams. More recently, I was cleaning up my room and found one of those dreams I had written down. I’d always liked this one.

Most of it’s pretty understandable. The only thing I might have to explain is the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The whole storyline of it is nutty, but basically it was a comics event that DC Comics created to revamp and update their characters. So basically, the old Superman, with his old backstory and stuff, were given a slightly more modern story. Anyway, here’s the dream:

This was the last week of WERS, the Emerson College radio station; they would be closing their doors soon. It was late, maybe 3 or 4 a.m., and I was still in their offices. I had finished my shift not too long ago and wanted to make something as a token of my appreciation for the crew. Unfortunately, there were no art materials around. I ask the few people still hanging out for any random stuff they might have on them. CDs and Marvel Series trading cards get passed my way. I try to put these things together in some way that might seem artistic, might make a nice gift, but it’s just too hard. I set the stuff aside and walk into the studio. A Navajo man is there, strumming a guitar. I pick up a guitar as well, start plucking away, and the two of us play something stupid together. I see him realize that I can play, and he asks me to help with a going away CD. This is perfect, I think to myself. We talk a bit and decide to approach the guest artist, see if he’s willing to play along with us. The guest artist, still at the station at this ungodly hour, rummaging through the old records in the back, is Johnny Cash. He’s thin, his hair curly, and he’s grown out a mustache and sports sunglasses. The Navajo and I walk over to him, introduce ourselves, tell him our idea, and ask if he’s willing to help us out. He seems more than happy to help. We all play together and come out with a few good songs.

After getting a good deal of recording done, I finally leave the studio. I have no idea what time it is, all I know is I’m tired and it’s almost morning. On the brownstone steps, I see Eminem slumped over, he looks bummed. He talks to me about the Emerson administration, how they won’t let him into the school. He says that he’d applied as an undergrad, and been accepted, until they found out who he was. They had decided his music was inappropriate and didn’t want to support this kind of art. He rambles on about how his raps are amplified thoughts given identity, not unlike characters in a play. And what he says he’ll do in his raps isn’t necessarily akin to his own behavior. He says he’s just making art, and can’t control what people take away from it, nor does he want to, because he feels his art is complex and that sometimes you have to take in the destructive things, to ruin yourself a good deal. And he goes on about censorship. I mope with him a little, convinced that the Emerson administration denied him not because of who he is or the art he’s done, but because of the way it’s viewed by the public.

Soon enough, Eminem and I make our way back in the brownstone. We look at the photos on the wall, musicians that have passed through here, played a song or two in the WERS studio. There are a bunch of Johnny Cash pics. Eminem tells me that that’s not Johnny Cash in the photos. I say, “Sure, it is,” but I’m not sure. We go to the computer and look up old commercials featuring Cash, ads in which he’s selling real estate, or sponsoring soda, and in every clip it’s obvious he’s mocking the product. And it hits me: It’s not Johnny Cash at all. Soon, everyone in the studio starts to notice, and we all wonder what’s going on.

At this moment, Superman walks into the room. We’re all stunned, and he tells us not to panic. He explains that when the universe was going through the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and as the world was upgrading to make sense, Johnny Cash was supposed to be revamped as well. Only the new version wasn’t a good one at all, and the universe wanted to scrap him but couldn’t do it without major repercussions. So the Justice League had to step in, to essentially get rid of the universe’s mistake, and the universe would step in afterwards to fix everything else up. Superman tells us that they set up a trap outside the Tamalpais Elementary School Cafeteria, near the bathrooms, and they needed someone to lure Cash over there. We all talked it out a bit, and it was obvious that, after our recording session earlier, it had to either be me or the Navajo man. I got picked.

Sometime later, I find Johnny Cash and start up a conversation. We walk around, talking about music, or nothing. It seems to him we’re wandering aimlessly, though I’m very much leading him. When we reach the spot, Superman yells for me to get out of the way. I run and hear Superman yell at me not to look. From behind me I see a flash of the whitest light, and a second later, Johnny’s gone. I catch my breath and Superman walks over to me. He says not to worry, that the universe will do some weird shenanigans to fix itself up, and that this new weird Johnny Cash that we had hung out with will slowly be forgotten as memories of the old one return.

As Superman is telling me this, I notice two girls on the playground. They are Johnny Cash’s daughters, their names are Five and Seven, named because of their age. I know that they weren’t the daughters of the old Johnny Cash, the one we’ll remember soon. They’ll probably disappear from existence, casualties of a grand universal edit they had no idea they were a part of. And as the two girls chase each other on the playground, I wonder when they go, if I’ll feel sad about it at all. Or if it won’t matter because my feelings will be written away.

A couple nights ago I was feeling a bit geeky and did a quick Star Wars pic.