The Random Griffith

Butthurt singer-songwriter for hire

Looks like I fiddlesticksed up again. Gosh darn it; sometimes I should look down at that third rail and say, “You know, that’s a third rail. If I touch that third rail, I’m likely to get all shocked and all, so I’ll just note that thought and move away from that third rail without being stupid enough to touch it.”

But no. Instead of doing one of a hundred other things, like sit in meditative silence, or call that platonic galpal back who wanted to meet for a meal tonight, I had to do a stupid. I got an Facebook invite to a show at a local coffee room, and I clicked on the page for that show and typed a message about wanting to come, but I’m boycotting any shows by the person at the top of the ticket until he lets me play on one of his shows. The top of the ticket guy immediately wrote back: “That’ll never happen.” Fine, I wrote back. At least you’re finally communicating with me, instead of giving me a passive-aggressive cold shoulder every time I stupidly abase myself to you for asking to play on one of your shows. Then he said something like “Butthurt singer-songwriters aren’t my style.”

Now, I’m not sure that butthurt is the correct word; I think that in my case the word “frustrated” is closer to the mark. Hey, maybe I come across as butthurt, or unnecessarily entitled, to people, and I’m just a poor self-observer. But not being named Cayce, or Criswell, or Kreskin, or Mesmer, I have no idea unless you tell me, preferably before I make an annoying idiot out of myself. Psychic I am not, contrary to what those astrologers tell me about my Pisces Moon-Mercury combo in the sixth house trining my Neptune in the second or something like that.

Yes, I have a lot of songs that I want to play for people. I thought that this certain DIY straightedge punk legend and onetime local cafe owner might be open to my little ambition, perhaps. I figured wrong, of course, but I kept persisting even though I wasn’t getting any kind of straight answer. Perhaps I was, but it was telegraphed in that unspoken way that non-Asperger types communicate, and I was too cluelessly autistic to pick up the signals. Story of my life, there, really.

I could go off at this point and rip the guy a new sphincter with my precision-sharpened critic’s scalpel, but I won’t. I respect the guy’s work and like a lot of his songs, really, and in the past, we’ve enjoyed reasonably warm conversation to the point where I thought I could consider him a friend. I admire his tenacity to keep going even when the world is throwing him the middle finger, and I think he’s got a great work ethic. In fact, I’d spoken to his wife at one point about asking him to help me sequence a set’s worth of my songs, which is a service I would pay money to have done, and she seemed to voice that it might be a decent idea. Perhaps I misperceived. Anyway, I ran it past him, and got that cold shoulder, and didn’t press forward with that idea anymore. Asking for help in a way that I actually receive it doesn’t seem to be one of my strong suits, which is one reason I don’t seem to have many musician pals helping me to flesh out my songs.

My only caveat is that this person and his cohorts seem overly chummy and exclusionary, at least toward me. Perhaps they think that I, my music, or maybe both, “suck,” or aren’t up to their lofty standards, but they never got around to telling me to my face until now. Which is okay; I’ve spent large parts of my life casting what few pearls I have before swine, and I’m just getting around to stopping that behavior, or at least reining it in. The funny thing is, this person has rattled off many column inches in one of his blogs bitching about the local music scene, and to me, he and his little treehouse of friends are as much of the problem as anyone he rails about, and the idea of him calling anyone else “butthurt” is more than slightly risible.

But I’d rather not focus anymore on something I can’t control, which is what he or anyone else thinks about me. I’m more interested in getting at the root of the problem, which is why people react to me the way they do. It’s kinda like my dad used to tell me: “If you’re walking around town and all you keep running into is assholes, come home and look in the mirror.” And I really want to figure out why people perceive me as too “butthurt” to want to work with me, so I can address those negative qualities or try to get help working through them. I’m sincere about this; I don’t want to die and then have somebody say, wow, he wrote some pretty good tunes; too bad he’s not around to play them now.

So at some point, I’d really rather move past that which is holding me back. I’d like for people to want to play music with me, rather than talk behind my back about what a jerk they think I am, or laugh at me for trying. I’m not getting any younger, but mostly I’m getting incrementally wiser. I want to use the time I have left to communicate with others, and I really would like the privilege and opportunity to play my songs to people. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. But I’ll have to approach people who feel warmly toward me, rather than people who secretly harbor animosity toward me.

So maybe next time, I’ll do the smart thing and shut up before I make any more enemies. —Jackson Griffith

Happy December 24, or Santa is just Satan spelled sideways

Posted in embarrassing confessionals, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 25/12/2011

Because I can’t locate any Mr. Magoo marathons anywhere on the cable, and even more because I don’t have cable so even if there was a Mr. Magoo marathon somewhere I wouldn’t know about it, I’m sitting here on Christmas eve, doing my laundry. Like you were surprised, right? I mean, me and this obsession with doing laundry, when I used to be that guy who would be schlepping plastic garbage bags of dirty clothes down to the laundromat every month or so, is kinda not in character. But really it is; I lead a tidy, reasonably organized, utterly boring and solitary life, with far less surprises than in the past.

I’m not going to post any Christmassy stuff, just because I’m not really a Christmassy guy. Didn’t get a whole lot of party invitations this holiday season, probably because I’ve been such a hermit. Hermitage is good, though. I can noodle around on the guitar and read books and go eat dinner by myself and walk around the neighborhood, and nobody gives me a hard time about it. Hell, most of the time I have such a difficult time making conversation with people that it’s kind of a relief being alone. I prefer to communicate with people via my fingers, as in typing or writing. My mouth, not so good, at least until I can work up the nerve to see a dentist.

I hope you aren’t getting the vibe that I’m wallowing in self-pity here, because I’m most decidedly not. My life is generally pretty good. Yeah, the holidays suck, especially when your family is fractured and you haven’t had anyone gaze at you lovingly and call you sweetie in a long time. But usually I can get through any rough patches or raw emotional moments, or days, by holding the realization that things change, and then they change again, and then they keep changing.

So here it is, almost Christmas. I’m kinda planning on working on this crazy song cycle I started, but I’m pretty open to whatever comes surging down the pike. Got some nice plans for tomorrow, and gonna fold my laundry today.

Like now, really. Till next time. —Jackson Griffith

It’s cold by Ramentown standards, and I dunno what I’m doing tonight

Posted in embarrassing confessionals by Jackson Griffith on 21/12/2011

Whatever it is I’m doing this evening, I have no idea what it is. Rather than get in some porcupine-rasslin’ match with Ron Paul enthusiasts on Facebook, for which I really don’t have the bandwidth tonight, and rather than fix some dinner at home, I elected to bundle up and walk down to the local twentysomthing cafe three blocks away. Figured I’d eat a salad, drink a root beer and bang out one of these little windows into my cranium.

I might have drived/driven/drove, but that would mean I’d have to give up my parking slot in the apartment complex first-come-first-serve lot, and I’d have to park on the street because the lot is full, and that’s because a lot of chumps from neighboring buildings are parking there, and our manager has other things more pressing than telling these nincompoops to vamoose or get towed, so it’s a sucky situation and I have a lingering resentment that makes me race home after work just so I can grab one of the slots before one of the other resident tools gets in first, like this one balding goatee’d troll in a VW GTI who grabs the front slot, I swear he lurks and watches until someone leaves and then he runs out and gets in his car and whips it into the empty space, so I have a stupid resentment about all that. Stupid, stupid resentment.

Anyway, I walked.

So then I got a table, which is nice because the usual crowd of college kids is on hiatus. Ordered a salad and a root beer. Tuned into the two couples at the next table because they were talking loud about nothing in particular, found myself getting judgmental, realized that all my judgments were in my head, so I went back to typing. Found a really dumb Croatian blond-wig band for your enjoyment. Ate a salad: The bleu cheese is surprisingly catboxesque, but not in a bad way; it’s just pungent in the way your dog’s breath is when he kisses you after snouting his way through the Fresh Step in search of kitty-sourced Tootsie Rolls.

And now they’re gone. This place stops serving beer around 10, even though it’s open until 11. Those kids wanted to drink. Doesn’t make sense, they complained. I told them I thought it might be because when the coffeehouse, a fixture in this part of town since before I arrived in the mid-1980s, got new owners, who were more foodie-inclined, they went for a beer and wine license and got a lot of pushback from the neighbors, many of whom are old hippies who bought victorians and other old houses when they were run-down piles in the 1970s, and they kicked in a lot of time, love and money into bringing them up to suff, and they they grew older and grumpier and turned into old-city preservationists. Nothing wrong with that, but you can’t stay fixed in a time when you packed your bong and cracked an Anchor Steam and blissed out to the willowy strains of your favorite Crosby, Stills & Nash record, because those days are long since passed, and this is a young person’s town now.

Which I actually like, even though I’m older now, too. It’s a really crummy place to be single, though, because most of the women in this ‘hood are closer to my daughter’s age, and I prefer women who are much closer to my own age, which is, um, like, well, I was born in the first year Chevrolet offered a V8 engine in its Bel Air model. Not to hard to figure out. Which is to say that it’s after 10, and I’d better start ambling back to my tiny apartment and hope the neighbor across the way isn’t having ring-shout sexytime. If I’m awake, I just improvise my own porno soundtrack via some ninth chords and R&B vamps on my guitar. But waking up from a dead sleep to hear some random woman having a theatrical orgasm can lead to some pretty jinky dreams, like animals getting tortured and things like that.

Cranked the heat before I left. I know my bed’s yummily toasty now. G’night! —Jackson Griffith

Don’t think anyone’s bothering to read this, sooooo …

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 19/12/2011

Might as well run something up the flagpole here, just to seee who salutes it. I looked at the ticker, and no one’s reading this godforsaken blog, so I can pretty much say anything and no one will bother to respond. Anyhoo, so I’m about to enter into a hermit-like existence for the next few months, writing my masterpiece of Americana, titled “Let Us Now Praise Also-Rans.” Its subject matter will span over 200 years of American history, that subject matter being the losing vice-presidential candidates since 1796, which will cover at least 50 candidates, meaning at least 50 new songs. It will begin with Aaron Burr and will finish with Sarah Palin.

I figure that might make for an interesting narrative thread through American history, or pop culture and American history and other stuff. I’ve already written about half of the first three songs, the first one on Aaron Burr,” titled “How We Will Be Remembered”; the second, as yet untitled, on Samuel Adams; the third, on brothers Thomas Pinckney and Charles Cotesworth Pinkney, both of whom ran unsuccessfully for vice-president. That one doesn’t have a title, either. Partially written means that I have full melodic and chord structures, and some words. Next up, after that, is Rufus King, and then I’ll have to look at my list for what comes after that. I think it’s some Norwegian-sounding guy.

I figure that if I’m lucky, I can write the final 14 or more songs in February, in time for February is Album Writing Month. Working backward from Sarah Palin, the major-party candidates are John Edwards, Joe Lieberman, Jack Kemp, Dan Quayle, Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale, Bob Dole, Sargent Shriver, Thomas Eagleton, Edmund Muskie, William Miller and the guy who I wanted to write a song about that inspired this project, Henry Cabot Lodge. Oh, and before him, C. Estes Kefauver, who had a high school named after him in a National Lampoon high-school yearbook parody. I forget who’s before that, except that I think the losing candidate in 1920 was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Unlike the three guys who gave me the idea by doing a project on presidents, I don’t expect anything to come from this. But if I can get my act together, you can expect some pretty decent songs. I’ll be launching a new blog and posting rough mp3 versions sometime after the first of the year.

Wish me luck? —Jackson Griffith

Sorry, I only post from laundromats

Posted in laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 12/12/2011

Sorry. I’m such a skeez that I only post now on Sundays when I do my wawrshing. When the money gets to where I can invest in a new ‘puter and then get wi-fi at my apartment, then I’ll go back to posting every day.

This weekend I was going through stuff. I had to retrieve something out of my storage space for somebody, and I started pulling old items out, with the idea of systematically going through everything I have left from my past life and either cataloging and shelving it, or getting rid of it or, in a few cases, returning it to its rightful owner. I want to consolidate down to a smaller space, and then to no space at all. So, I’ve got some things to go through this week.

One thing I found on my counter at home, which I got last year as a Christmas party white elephant gift from a documentary filmmaker and judge who shall remain nameless, is a voodoo doll. Specifically an “ex-wife voodoo doll.” I received it right at the time that my love life went south, and 2011 has been a complete washout from me. Not even a kiss, or even mild flirtation.

Now, I don’t know if getting rid of this thing will change my life at all, but I’m feeling to do this in the least harmful way possible. I thought about leaving it on a certain doorstep at a house on a corner at Freeport Boulevard in Land Park, but decided that this guy’s wife and daughter don’t need to be dragged into it. I thought about looking up a certain lawyer in Placerville and sending it to his house, but decided to pass on that, too.

You see, I don’t harbor any ill will for my ex-wife, or her special friends. That was then, in another lifetime. So this filmmaker giving me that gift last year, telling me, “When I saw this in the el-cheapo store, I thought of you,” was less than appropriate. I’m the wrong guy for that sort of gift. I may be fascinated by hoodoo and other forms of magic from a cultural point of view, but as a person who embraces Buddhist thought, I can’t practice it, because it involves exerting power over others and, ultimately, harming them.

So, I think I have just the place for it. —Jackson Griffith

Another Sunday, another trip to the laundry

Posted in gosh darn it, laundromat posts by Jackson Griffith on 05/12/2011

Let’s see, here’s your weekend update: I played a gig last night, which was cool. I guess the only caveat is that I keep wishing that people I know will come see me, but fuggit. I’m just gonna keep playing and working and one of these days, maybe that will change. After the show, and the fabulous Mondo Bizarro cafe in Midtown Sac, I went down to the Safeway on 19th for some cleaning supplies, and then I walked across the street to check out the new Bows & Arrows store where Retrofit Studios used to be. Yes, I am woefully slow to go anywhere, and the place has been open for only like a year or something. The coolest part was walking up to Dane and Rodney at the wine bar, saying hi to Rodney, and watching him squint at me before asking, “Who are you?” “Uh, It’s Jackson, Rodney. He’s grown a beard.”

To backtrack to my sojourn to Safeway, I can’t believe how many of the tabloids in the racks at the checkout counter either featured a Kardashian family member as the cover subject, or else the Kardashians were listed on the cover as one of the stories inside. Yeah, I know. Tabloids. But has everyone lost their minds? I know I go round and round on this, but let’s review:

Thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage breaks out with a leaked sex tape that porno enthusiasts describe in terms of what a phenomenally lousy lay she must be, if what’s on the tape is anywhere near true. Nevertheless, thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage parlays that putatively crummy sex tape into a show, produced by Merv Griffin-wannabe Ryan Seacrest, an alien life-form who hosts a foisting mechanism called American Idol that has all but completely ruined anything artful left in popular music, which airs on another network controlled by encrusted dingleberries cast off by a decompensating fuehrer in a bunker far, far away.

The Kardashian show, or now, more accurately, infestation of shows, airs on the E! Network, a horrendous cable-TV septic tank that is owned by Comcast, a huge corporation that is cable television and internet service provider, and now owns the majority of NBC Universal, a film studio and television network. The show inexplicably catches on, and like a raccoon who’s just gotten fed, the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage crawls back to the house the next morning with her entire raccoon family, who all get either featured in Seacrest-produced shows or else they get their own breakout shows.

All of a sudden, this family of thoroughly unexceptional raccoons are stars, or what passes for them in our pre-apocalyptic society. They are everywhere. The thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage changes over time, via the marvels of plastic surgery, to an olive-skinned cross between a Barbie doll and the Venus of Willendorf, and there are accounts that her most noteworthy feature, her enlarged gluteus maximus, is surgically altered. Acolytes, who view the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage as the fulfillment of a prophecy by Sir Mix-A-Lot 20 years earlier, are not shaken by these developments.

Then the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage round-heels her way through a number of melanin-enhanced professional athletes, and she ultimately settles on an oaf of a boy-man who’s skill in the kitchen centers around his ability to braise raccoon meat in a Dutch oven, and the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage and the oafish boy-man Dutch oven chef marry in a ceremony that is touted by the very, very stupid as some sort of American royal wedding. It lasts all of 72 days.

I’m really not sure about you, but I know I’ve had enough. I don’t want to see any more of them when I go to the store, and any supermarket chain that can set up a 100-percent Kardashian-free checkout line, or two, will earn my business. I don’t watch their show, and I do no business with Comcast, because that company has done so much to push this infestation of raccoons on the public, and I don’t want to subsidize it by getting overcharged on my cable bill. Since Comcast has acquired General Electric’s old interest in NBC Universal, the thoroughly unexceptional hanger-on in Paris Hilton’s entourage and her family of fellow raccoons have been turning up on shows on NBC, particularly that lantern-jawed Doritos pitchman who hosts the once decent show once hosted much better by Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.

I think my clothes are dry. I will shut up now. —Jackson Griffith