Friday, April 29, 2016
I don't know when I'm going to die. This thought in itself can freak a person out until they're paralyzed. I don't know what’s better - to live as if you might die at any moment, or to live as though death is the furthest thing from your mind. One can paralyze you with fear and dread, the other can cause you to put off your life indefinitely.
I don’t have enough money to pay the rent. I don't have enough to pay my other bills either. My savings account is in the red, my credit card bills are too high for hope to reach. I am in debt and I don't see how I'll get out anytime in my foreseeable future. I shouldn't be here…
"Will that be all sir?" the girl at the checkout counter asks me, with an almost imperceptible hint of incredulous sarcasm behind her eyes. I've dropped about $300 worth of Jazz recordings from my overloaded arms onto the counter. My pulse is high, my eyes a little wide and wild. I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't be doing this. I can't help myself anymore. I've just mortgaged my future for a treasure of immediate gratification. This is definitely not recommended in the literature of financial planning. But they were having a sale. 25% off. What else could I do but take full advantage of the moment? The way I see it, I just saved myself a hundred bucks in my future. I was going to buy this stuff at some point anyway. It's just a bigger rush to get it all at once, get it out of the way, and rest assured that even if any of this goes out of print tomorrow, I have my copy safe and secured. Next time I'll use a shopping basket.
Jesus. Who uses a shopping cart to buy music? What kind of sick fucking addict am I?
Twenty minutes later I stumble through the door of my apartment and drop the armload of new music onto the kitchen counter. In the process I knock over a half empty bottle of beer and ruin the thick mass of Sunday's paper and the inside corner of the paperback book I'm trying to read. Shit. I have to get my life together at some point, or I am just going to sink like the Titanic in the icy cold depths of debt and drug addiction.
I wrap my upper arm. I slap the vein. I pick up the needle and inject it into the grooves of the record, close my eyes, and slip away into a jazz-induced illusion of a time I never knew...
It's damn near impossible to find good jazz records anymore. It's all on CD now. CD's that don't have the depth and warmth of the vinyl grooves as they spin round and round on the old squeaky turntable. There's no dust on a CD. No hissing or popping or crackling noises. You'd think this would be a good thing. Like the fact that you can't smoke in the bars anymore. Healthier - for you, for those around you, for the environment and culture in general. Clean. But when in the hell has this music ever been about clean? Buy yourself a brand-new slab of vinyl, and even after a day or two of sitting on the turntable collecting a hint of dust, or a few slips in and out of the paper cardboard sleeve, and you've got yourself a popping, hissing, sizzling slice of musically historic life. This is how it should be, and this is how it's always been. You get to the point where you don't even hear those extra noises anymore, at least not until they are gone. Digitally removed and remastered and purified. Chopped all to bloody hell is what it is. Pissing in the baby's bathwater to make it nice to drink. But sometimes it's all you've got. And it's good as tits even so. I play the CD and envision an old turntable in my mind. What it was like to live like this in the grand old days of American pop underground culture.
Bill Evans and John Coltrane...Miles Davis...Dexter Gordon...Art Blakey. They lead me in a hypnotic altered state to my cigarettes, to the whiskey bottle and the candles. Smoke fills the air around me, and the alcohol warms my insides almost as well as when she is lying right here with me. Turn the lights down or off. Let the music fill the air and mingle with the smoke that fills my head with a buzz of reflective relaxation. I'm going down with the ship and I'm gonna enjoy every last damn minute of it.
I check the machine. Tracy's called about four times, wondering where I am, what am I doing, give her a call, hope you're not mad, on and on. Sometimes I wish she'd just leave me the fuck alone. But I'll probably give her a call in an hour or so. Get her to bring over something to eat, maybe catch a snog later on. And maybe with any luck at all she'll be gone before I wake up. I don't need her telling me what a fucking mess my life is anymore. Especially not in the damn morning. Especially when I don't want to wake up until it's good and late in the afternoon. Ok, so maybe next time she comes over I won't insist on playing Ascension for our dinner music. Explorations may have been a better choice for her. But maybe I'll just stick with Miles and Byrd and no one else tonight. Have this little jazz club all to myself for a night. Fall asleep on the couch watching some BBC artistic cultured special or some bullshit like that until the colour bars or fuzzy snow come on and signal the point of no return for the loser lounger's life and times. Live like a real bachelor who's gonna die in his underwear on the dank and dingy floor when he's 49, cluttered ash trays all around, beer bottles filling the sink and countertop, newspapers strewn about the place...
At least the scene is set.
I don't believe in saving for the future, because inside I don't really believe that I have a future. I could die at any moment of any day, and what will I have to show for it? Hopefully not just a well provided for retirement.