progress on the net.

The internet was becoming much more intriguing.

We had heard from Keith and Paul about a private mailing list for indie rock people.  In the process of trying to find it, we had found a private forum on AOL that was also for indie rock people; we joined it and started reading the posts.  One of the interesting things about it was that some of the members were people we looked up to from the indie and alternative rock world.  It was fun to read their insights, and to make brief, electronic introductions with them.

It was also fun to watch celebrities try and interact with others online.  At the time, the internet wasn’t what it is today; not everyone had access like they do today.  So online communities were a little more exclusive – even the public ones had very few members.  One of the funniest and most pathetic things I ever witnessed online was Courtney Love coming unglued over the period of a few days on an AOL forum – followed by handfuls of people lashing out at her, handfuls of fans lashing out at her critics, and handfuls of starfuckers trying to be her friend.  It all made for great drama to sit back and read.

It was also sad to see some of my own favorite artists suffer the same fate.  Watching King Missile engage in a public breakup on an AOL forum was also sad to see.  However, this was a different situation for me.  A member of King Missile – Chris Xefos – was an acquaintance of The Mommyheads.  And John S. Hall was one of my favorite poet/speaker/singer types – if not my absolute favorite.  I found his poetry to be engaging, witty, political, and well-done, and his work with King Missile was, in my opinion, occasionally fantastic, and always a rewarding listen.  Plus, he knew Kramer, a person with whom I had some limited experience in the past.

Even as I made fun of the starfuckers looking to befriend Courtney Love, I reached out to both Hall and Xefos and introduced myself.  Xefos probably saw me as just another internet wacko looking to make a celebrity acquaintance, so he never responded to me.  Hall, on the other hand, did respond, and we began an email dialogue about the demise of King Missile and some of his future plans.

Online, I was also beginning to find other kindred spirits – guys in bands, looking to self-promote, guys who ran labels, looking for insights.  People interested in sharing gigs, helping one another with distribution, trying to build new networks around the country.  It was pretty cool.

We were, at the same time, packing for our move to Boonton.  We had discovered that Sambuca had quietly eaten the molding along our walls in the living room, and as we removed things we realized that living in a tiny apartment for a few years, you implement “fixes” to space issues that result in damage that eats your security deposit.  The closet organizers, for instance, left holes in the closet walls (especially the one I installed).  At some point we dumped a can of white paint on the floor of the living room closet, leaving a giant, white blotch on the hardwood floor.  Each picture we hung left holes in the walls, each appliance we installed left holes under the counters.

Soon we were tripping over boxes, living with the smallest possible amount of clothes, dishes, toiletries, and office supplies, as everything we owned was in boxes.  

I told my boss that I was moving to a new apartment, and would like a few days off.

“How many days off could you possibly need?” he asked.

“I was thinking I’d like to take a week.”

“A week?!”  

“Well, yeah.”

“Where the fuck are you moving, Hawaii?  Why do you need a week?”

“I’d like to get moved in, get organized.”

“I moved here from California,” he said.  “I flew out here the week before the movers got here with my stuff.  I worked the whole time.  I worked while we were moving in.  I didn’t take a single day off work.”

“Yeah,” I retorted.  “You paid guys to pack your house, you paid guys to move it.  You paid guys to drive your cars from California, you paid guys to move them into your house.  I have to do all that shit myself.”

“Fine.  Take Monday and Tuesday.”

Every discussion was just like that; if I left at 5:00, I’d hear about it the next day if something wasn’t finished.  If I stayed until 6, I should have stayed until 7.  If I got in at 8, I should have been in at 7.  If I took a day off, I shouldn’t have.  If I got in at 2AM from a business trip, I should have been in the office first thing the next morning.

It was crazy.  I was working like a madman, racing around the office like a demon, yelling at the top of my lungs all day.  I had turned into a maniac.  I kept thinking of that $60,000 salary I’d be making if I became the product manager.

One night I was sitting in the kitchen with Sandy, talking.  Buca was standing on the far side of the room, looking at me warily.  I went over to pet her, and she backed away from me, tail between her legs.  I got closer, and she ran away from me, looking at me over her shoulder.

“What the fuck is wrong with the dog?” I asked.  I called her to me, and she wouldn’t come.

Sandy started laughing.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“She’s afraid of you,” Sandy told me.

“What do you mean, ‘she’s afraid of me’?” I asked.

“You’re scary.  You’re always yelling.”

“I’m not always yelling!” I yelled. “I’m just talking.”

“I don’t think you realize how loud your voice has gotten since you’ve been working at this job,” she said. “You don’t speak anymore – you yell.  You move fast.  You scare the shit out of the dog, and you’re just noticing it now.”

I stopped and I thought about it for a minute.  She was right.  These guys I worked with were really rubbing off on me.  Their attitudes and their ways of doing things really impacted me.  It wasn’t all bad, but I was going to have to make a conscious effort to only absorb the good things about them.  And not scare the shit out of my dog.

I went into work the next day, walked into my boss’ office, and said “I’m taking next Monday through Wednesday off.  I’m moving, and I want three days to unpack and get my shit together.”  

“Okay,” he said, as I walked out of the room.

~ by Al on May 4, 2009.

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