Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Serenity Gardens (05.21.18)

Rocking Serenity Gardens. My view from the stage while I perform.

It's been almost exactly 32 years since I graduated high school, so my memories of that era are a bit fuzzy... probably compounded by the fact that I was using drugs and alcohol on a regular basis at that time period. But one event that happened during my sophomore year had been coming to mind lately, for reasons that will be obvious in a moment.

One day in April 1984, we were in class... well, I should say that most people were in class. I had ducked into the library for some reason. I had a problem as a kid that still occasionally plagues me today. I would get so overwhelmingly bored in class that I thought I'd lose my mind, and would find just about any excuse to not be seated in a chair for a full hour. There were classes and teachers that I genuinely liked, and would stay engaged and focused. In other classes, not so much. I'd spend the hour in a geometry class writing music and lyrics, doodling, and basically existing in some other world deep in my own head, and that was when I actually went to the class. Often, I'd find some reason to leave... to the bathroom, to the nurse's office, to the admin offices ("Aren't you supposed to be in class?"), and so on.

Me in my high school journalism class, 1985.

Anyway, I was in the library when the school went on lockdown. There was a guy in the parking lot with a gun. He was a former student, 19 years old, and had enrolled in the Marines, stationed about 90 miles south at Camp Pendleton. His girlfriend, who was still a student at the school, had broken up with him and was dating someone new, so his solution to this was to come to his alma mater armed with a shotgun and a 9mm pistol. He approached the new boyfriend, who was in his new Ford Bronco, and after ordering him out of the car, proceeded to fire 12 rounds into the vehicle. No one was hurt or killed, and eventually a SWAT team sniper put a round right through the shoulder of the kid's shirt, somehow while barely scratching his skin. Nice shot, man. The kid surrendered, we were let out of class after a couple of hours, and that was that. You can read all the details here, if you'd like.

The reason I have that news article handy is that yesterday, the event popped into my head, but the details were so hazy that I wasn't 100% sure it was something that had actually happened. The memory felt more like something I'd seen in a made-for-TV movie, or a story I'd heard someone else tell. I actually got on the Facebook page for my high school class and asked the other folks about their recollections of that day. One of them pointed that news story out to me, but almost all the rest had the same vibe as me... they either barely remembered it, or in some cases had no idea it had even happened. You would think that something as traumatic as a lockdown due to an armed gunman at the school would have been one of the main events that we all took with us after our school years, but no... not the case. One of my classmates, a smart kid named Brian, pointed out that before Columbine, the very idea of a person walking through the halls of a school and methodically killing people was so unthinkable that we didn't, at the time, have a frame of reference as to how bad it could have been.

I mention all this because obviously, gun violence and school attacks by students and former students have been a big part of our lives as Americans in recent times. We're starting to become more cognizant of the root causes of these horrifying events, and it would seem that difficulties with establishing or maintaining relationships is a huge factor. I will tell you, while I had a relatively decent time in high school, I wouldn't relive that part of my life for any amount of money. Frankly, that period of life when people are mostly physically mature but have yet to mentally and emotionally grow up... I wouldn't ever want to go through that again, or be surrounded by other people in the same stage of life.

In any case, certain things that seem pretty simple and understandable for many adults are incomprehensible for teenagers. Situations that are difficult for adults seem impossible to them. Things like the idea of moving on after a romantic relationship ends, or that just because you can't find a sexual partner by age 18 doesn't mean it's never going to happen. Those mistakes in the perception of reality are at least part of what drives these kids to take these abhorrent actions. I believe that many of them would get past those feelings with time, while others are genuinely mentally ill. In both cases, the combination of immature thinking and easy access to guns makes them a walking time bomb. I'm an optimistic person, but there's really no end in sight to this issue plaguing our country. There will be more school shootings, for preventable reasons that just won't be addressed.

The Show
Oh yeah, this post is about the live music show I did last night. Silly me.

I wasn't really planning on doing a tribute to R.E.M. at the show, but I'd been meaning to try out "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" for some time. It's one of Kat's favorite R.E.M. songs and one I've always enjoyed as well. I'd also included "Bang and Blame" on the list somewhat randomly, and then decided to try "Everybody Hurts", which seemed appropriate given the overall malaise that the country seems to be experiencing. Anyway, the R.E.M. mini-set happened kind of spontaneously, which is exactly how I like things to happen. I never like anything that I do creatively to feel contrived. I also did a seriously new song... one from Courtney Barnett's new album Tell Me How You Really Feel that literally came out on Friday of last week.

We had a nice crowd at Serenity Gardens as usual. Pardon the lack of more photos for the show; it was only by happenstance that I remembered to snap one from the stage between songs. Kat just started a new work assignment with more office time required, meaning she likely won't be at my shows, and I don't get the benefit of her excellent pics!

Serenity Gardens set list...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*Need a Little Time (Courtney Barnett)
Help Me (Joni Mitchell)
Bang and Blame (R.E.M.)
Man on the Moon (R.E.M.)
Losing My Religion (R.E.M.)
*What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? (R.E.M.)
*Everybody Hurts (R.E.M.)
Among the Leaves (Sun Kil Moon)
Abrasion (They Stole My Crayon)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Giant thanks to all who attended my show, with extra special live to the following people who helped support it!
Grace McDunnough, Camden Lionheart, AaronCabottJones Resident, Triana Caldera, go2smoky Resident, ImaInnocent Jewell, Oneida Firelight, TheaDee Resident, Barbara Mixemup, Celeste Ewing, and the amazing team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde.

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