Hip to be Square

Musings

Let me tell you a story. . .

The other day I was killing time at a discount bookstore by browsing through titles and sifting through stacks of Readers Digest. Popular Mechanics, Time, etc. I came upon a good art book, one that needed opening not just beyond the introduction page. Needless to say, book hunters are often nice quiet people, those that usually are polite and give way to others who might want to reach a well placed copy underneath a huge stack. People who exclaim in muted ahhs and oohs as they caress lovingly a long sought after book or publication.

But not on this day.Today, I’m forced to play nice to a young woman on wedgies, shawl and fake tattered jeans.

I say forced, because, right after seeing me open the coffee table book (it was a coffee table book) she came right over and asked to see if the artwork inside are good. I told her yes they are, and added it’s something Norman Rockwell might have done, or a student of Rockwell art. Quickly, this young woman, as I have surmised, may have been enrolled at some point or another, in the arts, started expertly dissecting what seemed like textbook definitions and  boy she did sound like she knows what she’s talking about. She even pointed out the best pencils and coloring pens, how she buys her materials from Powerbooks and not NBS because NBS is so “masa”.

So I, still civilized and semi-educated, listened and waited for my cue to jump in the conversation anytime soon.

Out of curiosity, she asked me what I do, and I told her that I am looking to start my own art studio of sorts. The lady dropped her several copies of Cosmopolitan on the middle bin and showed me a rather expensive looking sketch book with an inlaid title on the leather cover “sketchbook” in silver leaf.

She showed me her doodles.

Hearing her talk, she could be an expert. Seeing her doodles, well…

Let’s just say, her work is something anybody could have done, when they were in fourth grade. She’s no different from those people who think doodling deserve an organmization and a t-shirt, and a page on Facebook.

She asked me if I have some of my work with me. I was embarassed to embarass this young woman but it would be wrong to decline, so I showed her my large portfolio which I had scanned hours before. I saw her jaw drop. but for for a moment got her mojo back and commented that I need to add more texture, but otherwise my work was, as she said, wonderful, as her cheeks turn a little crimson.

I left the discount book store with the young woman fussing about her shawl while pretending to look at novels when all she had in her hands were just women’s magazines.

I love these hipsters. They can tell themselves a lie that thay are artistic, and believe it. And they playout the part by wearing what internet calls bohemian look, or artist fashion, and buy expensive drawing materials so they can flaunt them while sipping overpriced coffee and leaching wifi somewhere. At least it’s how I visualize them.

I got home with barely enough money for the next day’s expenses.

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Disc[h]ordance

I’m wondering why I woke up, yet again, in the middle of the night. Too many thoughts running around in my waking hours that when I did fall asleep, these seemingly unrelenting train of thought kept chugging on its tracks even when I am unconscious, that I had to get up and make use of the temporary solitude night always brings.

Partly, maybe, because Tony and I were chatting on Facebook and it always involves music and art, something I have always loved with those short online conversations we have been doing. Maybe, it was because my love affair with my 7-year-old Bandilla 12-string guitar is really coming to an end.

And it was heartbreaking.

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All the wood that made the grade to be of musical quality. The craftsmanship it took to build the body from different species of trees. The sound it makes. The long sustained notes filling the air and lingering there like the trail end of a good perfume. The harmony of 6 strings, augmented by 6 more strings to create an ensemble of  unified sound cleanly coming off from the fretboard of mahogany. The brass frets cleanly separating pitch and notes while the fingers press hard against the wood. It’s has always amazed me how something so organic, so Earthly could produce music that has been a part of humanity’s triumphs and frustrations,  the love and decadence, the loneliness and joy. Truly, something you can be proud of as a human – the invention of the guitar. Or any musical instrument, for that matter. But the acoustic guitar is my own selfish indulgence.

And my own 12-string inevitable demise is one of those things that’s hard to get over.

Heartbreaking.

You see,  when I choose my guitar, I go for the feel. The grip of my hand on the neck. The embrace that will keep its body close to mine. The tonality of the wood itself. The sustain. You got to have sustain when you strike the strings lovingly and the sound just lifts up and stays there. Like a memory of a loved one.

Choosing and the purchase of a musical instrument is one thing. Playing it is an entirely different appreciation. Because then you will have to change the strings when you bought it. But to change the strings, you have to be sure you have it tuned. I like tuning my own guitar. Not with an electronic tuner, but by ear, or if a piano is available, but that is rare, so I go for the pipe tuner. And you listen to the songs you want to play, and try to play along. if it felt good, then you have a guitar. Choose the strings you know fit your playing and singing style.

And you make music.

All the skill. The art. The wood. The steel. The influences. The practice. The preparation. You play in harmony with your guitar and it’s like you wrote that favorite song you are now singing.

And that is  going to be your feeling every time you pick up that wonderful instrument and sing the songs you want to sing. Play, however mediocre your guitar playing is, it doesn’t matter. All it matters is the song that resonates.

Hey! It’s me playing and singing!

And you and your guitar just made all those woodcutting, hours of painstaking hard work from luthier shop, and the patience of learning the chords makes it all worthwhile. And you keep playing and singing songs as long as the harmony you have with your instrument is alive, there in your heart.

But it is heartbreaking.

To see and feel that what  used to make good music is at an end. The bridge just wont keep forever. Once it is broken, it will never be the same again. Obviously I’ve tried various ways of keeping the guitar in its form, but the initial break taught me to accept the fact that we will never make music like we used to.

And I am heartbroken.

And I don’t have the heart to throw away a part of me. A part of Big Momma Earth tha grew from the soil and once held its own ecological balance of life forms in its branches and leaves.

Dale Custodio sent me a link for a documentary, Musicwood and while I enjoyed a very interesting look on trees and the guitar industry, It made me feel a lot worse seeing my guitar not being able to make good music anymore.

The worst part is, I have been thinking about the cacophony that has appeared at my workplace , somewhat blindsided me, or maybe it was not me alone who feel this kind of noise, but it is me who heard it like a badly tuned tuba.

I loved that team.

Heck. we made good music with Photoshop and After Effects and Metra and Final Cut Pro.

Man, we were rocking! A group of individuals, from different ways of life, of different skill sets and training, creating beautiful graphics for the news. I still think we are the rock stars of that tv network. The things these kids can make with a computer, it has always amazed me that I could be part of that symphony. It like magic, really.

But even wizards lose their touch.

And an acoustic guitar loses its spirit at the first break. It will not sound the same.

I can do so much to do repairs and think of my own solutions, but in the end, it will not sound the way it used to. A more expensive set of strings is never the answer for a guitar with a broken bridge. because the cracks are on the inside. I had it repaired by a very qualified and skillful guitar tech, but all the same . . . .

It will not sound the way it used to.

So I have to let it go. maybe I’ll look around for a new guitar, but not just now. it’s not like your dog died, so you replace it with another that looks like the last one.

No way.

I’ll keep her remains. Probably take down the strings this weekend. But tomorrow, I go out and see if there’s another place I could play good music. Maybe a  group of people I could be harmonious with again.

But until then, I am heartbroken.

Just Who The Hell Do I Think I Am?

I have always question my own selfish interests, now, more so, in the waking hours . Not that I am going insane or anything. Wait. I am insane, so no chance of getting any insane-er.  It’s more like a personal debate I have with myself every time things get too hairy or to close for comfort.

But since a friend dropped by and we enjoyed that half a bottle of brandy I was saving to spike my coffee with, it was worth it. Jof came by and asked to stay awhile , so we talked and we discussed those stuff that always seem to lead to out own misgivings, mistakes and triumphs at work. Jof, by the way is a wizard with design and layout with architectural flavor, and I kinda like that from the guy, since I can’t even do a decent 3D image with Google SketchUp.

But it was a short stay, and he has to leave, but not before we tasted a jigger of that fine Barley Shochu a new Japanese friend gave me ( domo arigato, Riki-san). But we had to leave it for later. And here I am, still waiting for some images on the email for my web design assignment.

So, while I wait for my housemate Jackson, and with the little bit of sobriety left in me tonight, I opened this blog and started writing stuff.

You know. . .

Stuff.

And masks.

Masks we all wear.

I have worn so many masks in my life. Hence that stinging title I place at the start of this blog post:

“Just Who The Hell Do I Think I Am?”

And it never fails to bring be back to reality.  Well, reality is much more cruel than any fantasy or science fiction I have read or heard. And there’s always a mask for that. Like an app. Everything seems to be an app these days. All for the sake of convenience.

So masks it is.

GuyFawkes

The most popular mask nowadays, but this one signify defiance.

We wear different kinds.

There was an uprising, a demonstration, an event that happened worldwide. With masks, to defy those people in power who wear masks. So what better way as a counterpoint to all that’s happening, but with another mask? Frankly, it’s humorous and frightening. It frightens me when time comes I can’t restrain myself anymore and go to the streets to sound off my own grievances. We are society and this is our fault. And we are also the society that should change things.

But how?

Even now, my Tweetdeck is buzzing and endlessly rolls feeds of tweets and RT‘s of things #MillionMaskMarch and yet did the media cover it extensively as they would cover an old musician’s sex life?

No.

Did my network have a substantial coverage of the event that happened here and elsewhere?

A little.

They said there were only a handful of people out there in Batasan.

And yet, it was happenning.

Like the elephant in the room that nobody sees. Or the pubic hair in the punch bowl that everyone ignores, so as not to make a commotion.

But what the heck right? Who do I think I am? have I the right to complain about such things? Even at my workplace there are masks present. Mask we use to buffer ourselves from some wannabe-power-hungry-authority-grabber personality. Since when did connection weigh much over skill? Since when did name dropping ever get anywhere in this life?

I guess we are doomed then. Here we are complaining and getting all riled up about PDAF and politicians, and yet the workplace alone is a boiling room of politics!

But, fuck that, I’m too laid back now and too cool to rant about such things.

I’ll just enjoy this mask of content until the alcohol wears off. Or maybe if those emails contains the images I’m waiting for.