Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (10.04.15)

Boobs, I'm here to save you (and the people to whom you are attached). Photo by Kat.

So, here's something funny: I have no idea where I performed on Sunday afternoon for the "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" event. I can tell you that it was a really fun and cool place in Second Life. I can tell you that it was set up like a tailgating party in a parking lot, which is a super creative theme for an SL build of this nature. I can tell you that we had a nice-sized crowd of enthusiastic people comprised of my Zaksters as well as a bunch of others.

But I can't tell you what the name of the place was. Oh, I can give you a link that will take you there, but I don't know what "there" is. Is it a regular venue for live music in SL? Was it built just for the purpose of this event? I have no answers. So, I'll just tell you what I do know, which was that it was a really good show, and it seemed to be successful in its goal of raising money for an important cause.

Let's talk about that cause for a moment. "Making Strides" is another fundraising branch of the American Cancer Society, the same folks who organize the "Relay for Life" events, but the difference is that "Making Strides" is specifically dedicated to breast cancer. You probably already know this, but I'll mention it anyway: the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 37. Those may seem like decent odds, but they're not: breast cancer affects more women than any other kind of cancer apart from skin cancer. That's the bad news. The good news is that due to years of ongoing awareness campaigns and medical research over the past 30+ years, more women are finding their cancer earlier, when it is more treatable and their chances of survival are greatly increased.

Why would I spend an hour on a Sunday helping to raise funds for this cause? Well, I hope the answer is obvious. No, it's pretty unlikely that I'll personally get breast cancer (although, just to be fair, it does affect a small percentage of men as well). But I already have had an uncomfortably large number of women who are close to me be diagnosed with the disease. Almost all of them, fortunately, are survivors so far. But they had to go through hell and back with radiation and chemotherapy, and deal with the awful side effects of that process. It's my genuine hope, as I mentioned during my show, that before the end of my own life, we're able to talk about cancer in the same past-tense tone we use for supposedly incurable things like polio and smallpox (or with the triviality we currently attach to something like a cold virus). With the right support, that just might happen.

Anyway, beyond all that, the show itself went really well. You all know that I'm performing more rarely these days, and that makes each show a little more special. Upon arrival, I was a little trepidatious about the fact that there was a DJ spinning tunes before my show; as I've said previously, not all audiences are into both DJs and live performers, and there's always a risk that a mass exodus will happen from a venue once they hear the strum of a live guitar rather than familiar recordings. But DJ Titan was doing his job well, and the transition was smooth. It seemed that we retained a large percentage of the crowd, and brought in a bunch more.

What a cool idea for a build. Each time I think I've seen everything in SL, I'm proven wrong again. Photo by Kat.

People seem to be enjoying themselves while I do live tunes in support of a great cause. Photo by Kat.

Me, doing my thing. Photo by Kat.

A tailgating party in a parking lot, a circling blimp, a fight against breast cancer, and me playing live music to people around the world. Life is weird, you know? Photo by Kat.

One final weird note: I announced yesterday that one of the songs I performed, "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden, was a debut for me. As in, it was the first time I had ever performed that song in SL. I actually was under the impression that I'd never done that song anywhere, ever, and announced it as such to the crowd. So imagine my confusion when I happen to see that I really had played it once before, in June of 2013. I have no memory of this. None. Even more strangely, I can't find "Black Hole Sun" in my collection of lyrics, which would be a sure-fire way of knowing I'd done it previously. So... I don't know what to tell you, other than perhaps I'm living in some parallel universe and finally found proof of this.

Making Strides set list...
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
Underwater Underground (They Stole My Crayon)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
Cat's In the Cradle (Harry Chapin)
She's Always a Woman (Billy Joel)
Eleanor Rigby (Beatles)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Nobody Home (Pink Floyd)
Shock the Monkey (Peter Gabriel)
Tribute (Tenacious D)

Many thanks to everyone who came out to the show and helped support an unquestionably great cause! May your generosity bring you great Karmic rewards!

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