Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Serenity Gardens (11.18.19)

Since Kat's computer has decided to not function any more, I haven't had the benefit of her fine photos while doing my shows in SL, so here's me standing all alone at Serenity Gardens before my show.

This is a note to myself in the future. Hello Future Me! Hope you're doing well. Go drink some water or something. You're welcome.

Things are okay here in late 2019, Future Me. I actually have a lot for which to be grateful. The world itself seems to have a bunch of problems, and frankly it usually does. But all in all, personally, I'm pretty good. I own a marketing communications business that's busier than it's ever been in the 13-1/2 years since I started it in 2003. I remain committed to daily exercise and am still in pretty good shape health-wise. My son is in his second year of college and while he doesn't have a specific path moving forward at the present, I'm confident that he'll eventually find a direction with what he wants to do with his life. He's a smart and funny guy. And, at the moment, it being late November, I'm in the midst of a crazy work routine getting ready for that Trade Show That Shall Not Be Named. I'm sure you understand, Future Me.

We live in lovely Redondo Beach, right here in the same neighborhood where I've lived since 1995. Are you still there in Redondo, Future Me? You very well might be. It's a good place to live. Plus, as you know, moving is a giant pain in the ass, and we enjoy the steady routine of our daily home life.

Speaking of life, it has its ups and downs. It's definitely had a bunch of that over the past few years, both on a global scale and a personal one. We've lost some family members and friends, and have been forced to devote a lot of time and energy fighting policies and actions of our own government throughout the Trump administration. To that end, we're currently monitoring the impeachment hearings that started last week. Christina and I have a new tradition; each time we pour a cup of coffee, instead of saying something like "cheers", we say "impeachment". I'm not a superstitious person, but it does seem to be having its intended effect. I'm not very confident that impeachment will result in Trump being removed from office, but really, anything could happen. I'm kind of jealous of you, Future Me. You already know how all this crazy shit turns out.

My overall feeling -- something that, coincidentally, I mentioned to my audience last night at Serenity Gardens -- is that things are going to be on an overall path of getting better for a lot of people. Sometimes the direction of "better" isn't a straight line, and chances are that in the process of getting better, things will occasionally seem worse. But, Future Me, I can say that today at age 50, the older I get, the less I am focused on my own self and personal success, and the more I am able to look at the overall picture of the world. I know I'll have plenty of challenges ahead of me; that's the way life goes. But I also envision a better world for everyone as time marches on. Not a perfect world, but a better world.

Me, about age 25, in 1994. I actually thought I knew things then. I now know that I know less than I ever thought I did.

Speaking of envisioning things, I know that had I written a note to myself 20 years ago from my perspective at age 30, I'd have been incredibly wrong about most of my predictions of the future. I'd be rolling my eyes a lot at my relative naivety, and admonishing my past self for my former level of cynicism and my lack of understanding of all the ways the future can go in directions I couldn't have seen at the time. My life has changed drastically since then, and it's impossible to say that things would be better or worse based on the decisions I made, and actions I did or didn't take, and various events that transpired since then. But overall, I am a happy person still. I'm more open minded now than I was then. I'm more willing to acknowledge that I know far less than I think I know. And my values today are less self-centered than they were then... at least in some ways. And going back to my original statement... things are okay here in late 2019. Far from perfect, but okay, and I can appreciate that. Sometimes okay is enough. Don't you agree, Future Me?

Um... Isn't This Blog About A Show?
Yes. Yes, it is.

For the past 2-1/2 years, I've performed every other Monday night at Serenity Gardens. I really do love it there. I feel a high degree of comfort when I get on that stage... a feeling that has actually increased over the course of time. In recent months, especially with Grace McDunnough performing directly before me, I feel like the crowd there is very simpatico with my music as I start my set. Sometimes I try and put together some kind of theme for my show there, but last night was just me being me, doing songs I felt like doing when I built my set list over the previous weekend.

Something I'm sure I've mentioned before: there is a dearth of actual Thanksgiving songs. Mind you, there are plenty of songs about being thankful, and I play several of them from time to time. But actual songs about the holiday of Thanksgiving? Few and far between. It's a shame, because it's up there with my favorite holidays. I bring this up because I briefly considered doing a Thanksgiving-themed set at Serenity Gardens and then, discovering as I do each year at this time that there just aren't enough Thanksgiving songs for it to work, abandoned the idea. Speaking of Thanksgiving, I find that I am fully looking forward to a few days of cooking and gluttony next week.

But back at the show, things went well, and we ended up with a nice mix of songs covering different genres and time frames in music, and if nothing else, I enjoy being one of the more eclectic performers on the SL music scene. It's always kind of fun for me when I launch into a song and find I've taken some of my audience by surprise. Good times.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Save It For Later (English Beat)
Airport Bar (Martin Courtney)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Bull Black Nova (Wilco)
If I Had a Tail (Queens of the Stone Age)
Among the Leaves (Sun Kil Moon)
Doubt It (Zak Claxton)
Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo)
Your Song (Elton John)
Straight On (Heart)
Pickles (Zak Claxton)
America (Simon & Garfunkel)

Giant thanks to every single person who made it to my show last night, with super duper thanks to the following who helped support it!
AaronCabottJones Resident, Kat Chauveau, Turn Pike, Jaron Metaluna, Tyche Szondi, Asimia Heron, Trouble Streeter, Triana Caldera, Aurelie Chenaux, my excellent manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Serenity Gardens (11.04.19)

The observant ones among you might note that this show report is coming a full week after the performance of said show. Well, I wish I had a happier reason that this was the case, but I don't. Christina -- whom you Second Life friends probably know as Kat -- had a death in her family this past week. Her sister Tova was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in the spring, and it's something that's been weighing heavily on us ever since. She fought the disease with all of her strength, using as much medical technology as was made available to her, but in the end it still wasn't enough. The cancer spread and on Thursday November 7, she passed away at age 38, leaving behind a husband and two young kids.

To say it's a tragedy isn't giving it enough credit in its terrible nature. Tova's passing is simply awful, and the only good thing I can say about it is that the end stage was thankfully short. On Tuesday of last week, she went into the hospital with breathing difficulty and heart rate problems, and Kat was able to fly up to Seattle that same day. I am very glad she did; any delay might have meant never seeing Tova again. Kat has remained up there since then, helping out with the various family members through both tangible issues and intangible grief.

I'm not here to write a big memorial piece about Tova. Eventually, I'll use my skills as a video editor to help put together a memorial piece for her husband and kids to have, and in a couple of weeks I'll be heading up to Washington to attend a memorial event being planned. As some of you will recognize, Tova's passing is remarkably similar to that of my friend Rachael just a couple of months ago, and frankly I am really sick of cancer robbing me of the company of these people who I love. Like Rachael, Tova will be missed by many, and as anyone knows who's been through the death of a loved one, grieving takes time... but at some point, you have to allow yourself to continue your own life as the person would have undoubtedly wanted. Rest in peace, Tova. You were a good person who made the most of the time you had... none of us can ask for more than that.

Hanging with Tyche
As you can imagine, it was a pretty rough week all around. The same day that Tova passed away, I suddenly realized that my friend from SL, Tyche Szondi, had come to the Los Angeles area to attend a conference, and months ago when she'd planned the trip, I'd told her that we'd hang out while she was in town. Tyche and I met in 2016 at the Twin Cities Jam and I immediately knew she was the type of person whom I enjoy hanging with. She's funny and bawdy and basically gives no fucks. On Friday, I'd been kind of set on telling her that with all that had been going on, I wasn't exactly up for having fun... but then Friday evening rolled around, and I realized that what I needed was exactly that; the opportunity to take my mind of all the shitty stuff in life and just chill and have a good time with a friend.

Tyche and I in the parking garage as I was getting ready to roll back to Redondo.

Tyche did not disappoint. I grabbed her from her hotel near LAX, and then we headed a short distance away to the nearest In-N-Out Burger, where she tried her first Double-Double (verdict: "Oh hell yeah, that's a good burger!"). She laughed at my expert analysis of In-N-Out's starchy french fries when I described them as being "too potatoey" for my liking. After dinner, we went back to her hotel and hung out while she regaled me with stories from Second Life. I pay so little attention to various aspects of the music and social scenes there that it was fun hearing various tales of our mutual friends and acquaintances. We ended up hanging out and talking for a couple of hours (and I could have done so all day long if we'd had the extra time), and I felt better after that than at any previous point in the week, so hats off to Tyche. Having friends is important, and finding the time to spend with them is something all of us should do when we can.

The Show: Rocking the '70s
Back to my show. A week ago, when I did my most recent show at Serenity Gardens, it was the first weekday morning of the return to Standard Time from Daylight Saving Time. The fact that I'd had to set my clock back got me thinking; what if, instead of an hour, I set the clock back some 40+ years? That silly concept allowed me to come up with a theme for the show, in which every song I did was from the decade of the 1970s.

I was unable to get any photos at this show; Kat's computer was going though a multi-day repair cycle at the time, and most of the regulars in my crowd who might have snapped some pics weren't able to make it to the show. I didn't even consider it until afterwards, or I would have taken some of my own. But no big thing; we had a great crowd, and it seemed that everyone enjoyed the tunes. Also, my voice and guitar were both behaving nicely, and as I am wont to do, I threw in a song I hadn't performed before and that, too, went well. I have no complaints about the show at all.

Serenity Gardens set list...
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
California (Joni Mitchell)
The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Pancho & Lefty (Townes Van Zandt)
Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack)
*Hummingbird (Seals & Crofts)
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty)
Pigs on the Wing - Parts 1/2 (Pink Floyd)

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

Big thanks to all who came out to my '70s Show -- your presence there is what matters! -- and huge thanks to the following folks who helped support it!
AaronCabottJones Resident, Tyche Szondi, Jakbnimbl Riddle, Maurice Mistwallow, Alex Zelin, Pato Milo, Magnus Hoch, Nina Brandenburg, Skeat Abonwood, Grace McDunnough, my excellent manager Maali Beck, and the fabulous team at Serenity Gardens, Tilly Rose and Ilsa Wilde!