I just wasn’t made for this town
Guess I missed out on the whole Sacramento lovefest a few weeks ago. There are things I love about this place, mainly Midtown, the American River Parkway and a bunch of places for cheap eats. And there are things I hate about myself. Sometimes, those two things go together like kiwi jelly and Marmite. I’m not so sure why I get so conflicted about this stuff. Most of me wants to be that warm and funny life of the party who shows up and lights up a room, or a backyard, or your life. Not the guy who cuts that trouser-burning brapper that clears the room.
Sometimes I have this most marvelous way of shooting myself in the foot. This isn’t a self-pity rant as much as it is the recognition that I habitually seem to fuck myself somehow, usually out of insecurity. See, I write and play songs, but I used to be kind of a music critic at the local level, and before that on the national level, and I got a little burned out on that over time, and I still make snarky statements about some local acts that come back to haunt me. Mostly it’s out of frustration; I’m still beating my head against the wall, trying to get my music out in front of people, and I’ve had a really difficult doing that in Sacramento. Part of that may be that I and my music “suck,” at least according to Sacramento standards, and part of it comes from the fact that some people just don’t like me because they feel I’ve treated them badly. (The reality is that sometimes I’m goddamn lucky to make it out of my apartment, and what people perceive as me giving them the stinkeye is really me flopping around the dock like a fish out of water, and any sullenness is just the proverbial storm clouds lurking around my head that I thrash in vain to dissipate.)
So tonight, I heard a story at an open mic from a local singer-songwriter, about how he’d tried to add me onto a bill at a local coffeehouse, but the booker told him, “Find some other guy. Anybody. But not that guy.” It turns out the booker is a member of a very popular local band. It isn’t that I don’t like his band; it’s just that I’m not over-the-moon multiorgasmic about them the way that a bunch of people in this town are, as much as I’ve tried, and when I’ve heard so many people gushing about the greatness of this band, I’ve wondered why I just can’t get onboard the Mondrian-patterned groovy love bus. So maybe that, coupled with my own frustration, caused me to say some stuff that I should have kept to myself. Like I said, I am an idiot much of the time, but I have to be an honest idiot, and I’m too old to fake enthusiasm for things that I’m just not feeling. So I don’t blame this guy for barring me from playing his club for mouthing off about his band. I really don’t.
To me, Sacramento is a funny place. I’m just woefully out of sync here for some reason. I know I write good songs, and when I play them elsewhere, like at the gig I played in Stockton last weekend, people respond. And I’ve had some really good shows at Luna’s (here on 16th Street, in Midtown, or Downtown, where I think I’ll be playing on Saturday, August 13.) But this place often goes nuts for stuff that leaves me scratching my head, and it ignores people I think should get a lot more support. It must be some residual toxin in the water that I’ve managed to avoid since I got here in 1984. Or maybe it’s just that my planets are in some kind of detriment in Sacramento according to astro-cartography. Or maybe it’s just that I’m an unrepentant and incorrigible asshole, but I’m the only one in the 916 who hasn’t figured that out.
But part of me really likes it here. I’ve got an anonymous life, and I could hole up in my apartment with a guitar and no one would be much the wiser. I love the feel of walking around Midtown, usually alone, and I’m on reasonably friendly terms with enough people here for me to feel somewhat at home. On top of that, the recovery community in Sacramento is like none other, and I’d really miss thse people if I left. But otherwise, this place has been pretty lonely, and I haven’t had the best luck with women here, or with making close friends in general for that matter.
Yeah, the grass is greener elsewhere. Maybe I should find out how green. Someday, I will. —Jackson Griffith