Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Get Back Sessions

I'm facing the horrible sin of turning 30 in less than six months. Blasphemous! you say? Life dies at 30? I should have a full-on freak out, or at least that's expected of me. "You're turning 30! Oh god that's old!" Pop culture has it that once out of your 20s you're life is pretty much over. Yes, that's exactly what's going to happen.
Don't buy into it. Maybe I'm well and truly fucked up in the head. Maybe I'm deluding myself. Or maybe I'm seeing 30 as liberation. I'm tired of being in my 20s, expected to live life as hard as I can. It's gotten so boring firing up the jet-packs on my way to the next big show. Getting in with the cool cool kids on the after hours disco dance or stumbling into the hothouse party. Never was my style in the first place. Sure I like a posh club, but I listen to better dance music, euro scene with the city-breathing dub step sounds. I like a good pub just as well when I'm with my friends. Seeing the shows but standing aloof. That's what I've done all along. The pose is tiresome. The clothes are not mine. The scenesters are not me.
Turning 30 means I'm now exempt. I don't have to take the pose, wear the clothes or pretend I'm another one of "those." I don't have to stand aloof in the back of the club. I can do it in the fucking middle now. It's not so much that I've faked myself for the last decade but that I've had to actually show interest where none exists. Not only can I not care I'm not even expected to. I become that old dude. I'm comfortable being the old dude.
Living on the other side of 30 opens up a whole new world of possibilities. For some reason I thought 28 would allow that, but it just meant I was in my waning days in the eyes of others. When you spend a lot of time observing you can feel other's eyes on you. But 30 gives me full rights to say "fuck off." Sure I've had that attitude for a good while. Even so, that was part of the expected pose. Now I can say it with pure honesty, not with a slab of irony.
It's liberation through invisibility. When no one pays attention you can do as you like. If I'm tired I can look it. If I'm annoyed I can run with it. If I'm interested I don't have to feign disinterest. Since I'm not obviously old I don't stand out. I can hold onto my arrogance without the absolution of some faux apology.
I think a wonderful ride awaits my 30s. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Get Back Sessions

I love fucking with language. I love good puns and lateral usage of words. It's the confusion it strikes in others, which they hate. I suppose that's what I get for reading too much about language.

The Political Consciousness

"So much of human genius is unintentional, is stumbled upon, and found amidst the ruins of dead traditions and full-proof plans." -TNC

That's a line from one of TNC's latest posts. He's focusing on President Obama's critique of new technological devices like iPads and Xboxes as being distractions. Coates takes the angle that what Obama is doing is over-emphasizing past culture at the cost of recognizing the innovative spirit of new technologies and mediums. And there's a real truth to what Coates says. As a self-professed geek Coates doesn't hesitate to say that without these alternative mediums (in his case comics, hip-hop and computer programing) he would have ended up as another college-degree holding menial worker. Moreover, he explains how having a parent not only aware of the cultural products their kid is absorbing but actively participating ties past culture to the culture of now. By understanding these mediums, as Obama claims not to, parents can readily connect with their kids while providing a history to these new mediums.
There's the trick. My own father would constantly critique my music but the critique was one part a denial of the present and one part revealing past music that informed what I was listening to. Without him I wouldn't have the appreciation for melody, lyrical ability and song structure that I do now. But that took my dad listening to my music first and then pulling on its ties to the past. Yes, he was an old codger at times, but equally he was an appreciator of music. I still find it amazing how he actually liked Fujiya Miyagi because of the bass lines. Thus his attempts to understand my music led me to do the same for his and I'm better for it.
It's all well and good to say that you're open to new things, new experiences and such. Modern life though requires understanding the past through the present. Without that knowledge of the past the present becomes less meaningful, less revealing. It calls for knowing both the old and the new. So for a pragmatic man like Obama to take shots at the new is a touch depressing. I can understand his basic argument that we shouldn't devote excessive time to outright distractions. That doesn't mean we should go without any distractions at all.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Get Back Sessions

I've gnashed my teeth, cursed the gods, wrestled with demons and angels, screamed, prayed, poured my heart out and fallen into the deepest holes of despair. All for a woman. And I've done so well aware of the futility of it. A sign my dad put up above his bench decades ago says that determination and persistence alone are omnipotent. Makes for a good business saying. But when it comes to matters of the heart such ideas are actually detrimental. When in love with one who is not in love with you determination and persistence are hardly omnipotent. They aren't even sufficient. You can prove yourself in a thousand different ways. You can appear as the greatest person your desire has ever known. And none of that means anything if they are unwilling or simply don't love you.
So it goes. But I've found myself in a situation of trying to explain that to a close friend who, out of fear, pushed away his love. Of course he wants her back now, stupid git. Even the most emotionally mature, most intelligent, most self-aware guy will still do stupid things. Guys are dumb. That's the long and short of it. What makes such stupidity even worse is a guy can know this and know the actions he is about to do are stupid yet still do it. Why? Because guys are dumb.
Which brings me back to my friend. He's placed himself in the position of the jilted lover, the worse place to be emotionally (with the natural caveats such as childhood abuse, molestation and all that stuff that makes me wish aggravated assault wasn't a crime). While I think pursuing the woman of his desire is the wrong thing to do, he is my friend and I fully support him in his choice of paths. He loves her and no argument will ever dissuade such powerful emotions.
The same goes for trying to convince someone they love you. Persistence and determination propelling the most compelling of reasoned and heartfelt arguments will not change the mind of someone who has stopped loving you or never loved you in the first place. You're dealing with matters of the heart that are of immense intensity. So you alone cannot change the heart of your desire, even if you might change their mind. Love, like Life, simply is. It exists and then it doesn't. You can't force it. Stubbornness in love can keep a love together even when you don't necessarily like the person at the time. Conversely, stubbornness once that love has passed is a head-meets-wall situation.
Perhaps that love will return, but it won't come from ill-minded and irrational actions nor reasoned arguments. It will come from your desire still holding love in their heart and letting that love emerge again. Try explaining that to someone hurt by love though. As I've told my friend, if he wishes to pursue this path then he'll need to harden his heart more than he would if he simply let it pass and allowed the wounds to heal. Because he'll have to experience emotions so intense that only the strongest grip on reason and reality will prevent him from going mad. I've gone mad already. I failed at pulling romantic love out of my desire, though she does love me. I learned to accept that and actually am much happier for doing so.
Now this doesn't mean pursuing the one you love is entirely a futile exercise. It is possible, however slim that possibility is, to cause your desire to examine their heart and find that love for you does exist. That's the exception to the rule though. Rarely does it happen. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it isn't fair. And yes, while life isn't fair, it is up to us to make it fair. Yet trying to make life fair when it comes to love borders on the absurd. It's one of the areas where fairness does not apply. It's love for fuck's sake.
I wish it were otherwise as much as I wish I could dissuade my friend from subjecting himself to further injury. That's the existentialism Albert Camus wrote about. The never-ending defeat. But we must live it still. Being hurt by love is only natural. And failing to bring that love back is only natural as well. We must do it because to do otherwise is to run from life, to pretend that by sheer force of will we make ourselves immune from love. We are not. And we must bleed for it. But to think that we won't get bloodied as some point is foolish. And to think that we can prevent being bloodied again by having hearts of stone is equally foolish.
Thus I'm stuck playing the role of Virgil to my friend's Dante. I've been through that hell and now I have to go back to show my friend the way. It sucks on a multitude of levels. And as much as I can force his eyes to look at reality I can't make him see. He has to come to that place himself. I've learned my lessons, even if I occasionally slip up and let my heart run free. That doesn't mean I've forgotten though. Yes, I'm a flawed guide. As are we all who have had similar experiences. That doesn't mean I can't help though.
So I will do what I can as best I can because this is my friend and that's what I do for my friends. He is a man I trust with my money, my life and my secrets. I don't even have to use my entire hand to count the number of people who qualify for all three of those. Thus I certainly can't and won't abandon my friend just because it's a difficult task. Too many people do that to their so-called friends. If you trust someone like that then you have to remain loyal to them. Helping each other out is the only way to redeem ourselves, even if that redemption is only for ourselves. Love does not conquer all, but that's why we have friends to lead us back from that emotional cliff. That's my job.

Notes From A Jeweler's Bench

Appraisals are not as easy as one thinks. Writing a proper appraisal of an item of jewelry is actually a research task--sometimes complicated and in-depth, sometimes as simple as writing down what is observed. Either way it does require a specialized knowledge that can take years to fully grasp. Simple diamond grading is only the first among many steps.
A basic appraisal requires knowing approximately seven things: what kind of piece is it, what stones are in it, what metal is it, how are the stones arranged, what size are the stones and how many are there, what is the raw metal weight? You have to start memorizing conversion charts such as how to convert carat weight to pennyweight, round diamond size to carat weight charts, the daily cost of metals and how to correctly divide that into the units needed. People seems to think that an appraisal is a simple as looking at a piece and just knowing how much it costs. Certainly I can ballpark it, but for the purposes of an estate or insurance appraisal much more is required.
It's also time consuming to write. Translating one's notes into a form legible to the average consumer or insurer is not easy. It requires the ability to accurately describe something in an intelligible way. You take a set of numbers formatted in a sensible way and throw in a description of how all those numbers come together to form a piece of jewelry. This is because the primary goal of an appraisal is to allow someone to either recreate the piece from the description or have another jeweler look at the same numbers and descriptions and arrive at the same conclusions. Appraisals are more science than art in that respect. If a piece were lost and an insurance claim filed then the insurance company will want to know with a high degree of precision what the lost article was and what it cost at the time the appraisal was written.
So the next time you want to have your jewelry appraised be sure to find an appraiser who actually cares about getting it right versus one who just churns out a set of notes loosely tied together. I've seen appraisals from high-end jewelry stores that look like a high school student wrote them. You can barely tell what kind of piece was being appraised let alone what the piece might have looked like. I never look at a previous appraisal until after I've done the basic work both because I don't want any bias entering into my assessment and I usually find the appraisal relatively useless. It really is amazing the kind of shoddy work jewelers can get away with when writing appraisals, even those who have done it for decades.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Music Of The Spheres

Found out a little bit ago that the first song a friend's newborn boy ever heard was Bill Evan's "Peace Piece" off the April mix I made specifically for the little one. I had slightly edited the song to include a fade in/out of Julien's heartbeat as the last note of the piano decayed. That is incredibly special to me. I think I'm going to smile for the rest of the day/week. I knew I liked the April mix, but this makes it even better than the best reviews. I feel like some of the joy both the new father and mother feel has been spread to me.
May, you can suck it so hard now. It's my dad's birthday today, the first after his passing. Now music has brought such ecstatic joy that I'm in tears. Thank you Life for such blessings.