The end of the year always makes me take a look around and re-evaluate things. Doubly so, since this year end represents a decade gone by, and probably the most important one we’ve had when you consider what went down at the beginning of it. Ten days before the U.S. took down 3 of its own buildings in one of its biggest cities and completely changed the reality of our daily existence, I was out of my head in a cornfield in rural Wisconsin. What was I doing out there? Well, to be honest, I’m not completely clear on that, but I do know that it was the end of an era, the end of a movement and, for myself anyway, the end of a strange chapter of my life.
Furthur 2001, Drop Bass Network, strange rituals, rain, shadows, geodesic dome, ingestion, Addict tent, what the fuck. A three day party in a cornfield with thousands of people in attendance, no rules and every type of electronic music you care to mention. I remember, among other things, that it was sunny and warm and the sky was somehow different. I’ve looked up countless times since then and it’s never been quite the same. I don’t know why and I don’t have the words to explain exactly what was different about it. A picture I found may shed some light, or it may not:
I find it really strange to see a scan of an actual picture, as opposed to a crystal clear digital picture, but I think it captures more of the truth. Just look at that picture and place yourself there. Imagine that, while it was already well established, the internet was not tied to everything you did in one way or another. Imagine that you weren’t texting all of your friends and instantly sending them crystal clear digital pictures. Hell, you probably didn’t even have a cell phone. Imagine this mass of people congregating and talking freely, moving from camp to camp and imagine a police force even thinking about trying to break this up even if they did know about it. Not happening, so they’d probably cut their losses and tell these kids to be safe and not cause them any trouble. Maybe, maybe not, but this was the TAZ in full effect and it kind of had a momentum of its own. Imagine night time, watching a DJ play records inside a tent full of people. Imagine hearing a track that made you dance uncontrollably and thinking, “God damn, I need to find out what this is and where I can get it.” Imagine that, instead of pulling out your laptop and tapping into an omnipresent and omniscient Wifi connection to find out, you asked a few people around you if they knew. And if none of them did, imagine that you spent the next several days/weeks/months/years after the party rummaging through record bins, just hoping that you might find it one day. And if you finally did find it, imagine the endorphin rush you would feel and the smile that would break out across your face and imagine the other people in that record store watching you and understanding exactly what had just happened.
So what does all of this have to do with me writing a blog in the year 2009? For me, what you’ve just read symbolizes all of the changes the past decade has thrown on our doorstep. I see many things in terms of music, but I really think that just about every aspect of our lives has changed in much the same way. We’ve cheapened it. We’ve settled. And it’s not just the internet I’m talking about, it’s everything. Your television has gotten more compact, just like the soundbites it pushes at you. For the vast majority of people, the lowest common denominator has become lower and lower. Our interactions with each other have changed. Nobody really cares anymore because it’s not fashionable to care too much. Money has always run things, but it’s becoming increasingly more important to everyone, it seems.
A talking head tells us that there’s trouble and we panic just like we’re supposed to. Billions in imaginary currency is given to the corporations who already own everything because we’re told that they really need it. The numbers pile up until they no longer make sense, can no longer be rationalized. People run to the nearest thing they can find to distract them because they can no longer keep the pieces of this puzzle straight in their head. Mass opiates abound and if you can’t find a metaphorical one, run to your doctor and he can give you something a little more tangible to numb you out. All of this is updated, analyzed and forgotten in real time.
Youth are corrupted and trained from the day they are born and parents are too busy keeping their heads above water to notice, or care. All that matters is getting people to pay attention to you and when they do, when they’re finally seeing you for the first time, you’ve forgotten what you wanted to tell them. So you feel stupid and do something, anything to try to entertain them so they will accept you. No turning back now. So you make a sex tape, you get on Youtube and make an ass out of yourself, you sing some meaningless words that somebody else wrote for you. It’s ok, it’s only a distraction so you can make your exit, and they’ll forget about it as soon as the next spectacle comes along. And by then, maybe you’ll think of the next scam. Or if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll just fade away into obscurity.
We can look for boogeymen, but we’ve done this to ourselves. The only question is, what can we possibly do about it? Where can we start?
Can we simplify this somehow? Can we get back to whatever place each of us deems as “better?” Starting today, I’m walking my ass back to that field and this is the year that I’ll finally see the sky that way again. There is still the possibility for life to be real, we just have to be ready to accept it, good times and bad times together. Let’s simplify, let’s make giving a damn fashionable again, let’s all find something that matters to us and go for it. Fuck apathy, fuck distractions, fuck your credit score, fuck wanting to die, fuck politicians, fuck reality TV, fuck TV in general, fuck shameless self promotion, fuck taking the easy way out, fuck the spectacle.
And after all this, we get down to a resolution, only this year maybe it will stick. I will put out a mixtape, just like the ones I used to buy, I will make a record, I will read more books, my blog will become a zine, I will seek out like minded people and (social awkwardness be damned) I will try to make meaningful connections with them. I’ll give the people I care about more of my time, I will not turn a blind eye when I see injustice, I will do as many things as I can the old fashioned way. I will try to build a better me and help you build a better you. Life’s a party, and god damn it, we’re gonna dance.