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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Open Road...Rocky Horror Reconsidered, Living on Zoloft and other Strange Thoughts...

Well, that's a good beginning, isn't it?  Back in the Office on the 4th of July, and "Farewell to Arms" is playing by ELP.  A ballad for whatever this state of mind is I'm in.

I have a lot to tell you of, and also this is the cleansing of my twisted insides for what must be the millionth time.

I am actually in a good state of mind right now, and it feels good.  Of course, 30 minutes on the bike and another 10 or so in the sauna on a day that's pushing 95 in the shade will do that to you.

So, let's see...I was on the road early Saturday, once more to return to Boston and help say farewell to the Loew's Theatre in Harvard Square, Cambridge.  The theatre has been home to the Full Body Cast of the Rocky Horror Picture Show since 1984.  It's final turn is this Saturday.  

I am actually working on the 7th, so I did my turn on the 30th.  My first time in that theatre to perform was on April 5, 1990, as a "Rocky."  Yes!  I did not become Riff Raff until a couple months after that.

iTunes update:  "Hurtin' Me, Hurtin' You," by Steve Earle.  The music fuels my fingers, what can I say?

From my pretentious hotel (I have to have a little fun, dammit), where I can cause heads of the allegedly wealthy to turn when this maniac dressed like a biker with a guitar strides through the lobby; anyway it is a comfy place, and I do like a little of that when I can get it.  View of the Charles is lovely, and it's close to stuff.

Like I wrote last summer, Cambridge (where I was), Boston, the whole's alive again.  I really miss the activity, and yet with that comes the concerns I have about being able to survive in a city with such high tension. With the activity comes the tension and the stress.

Six weeks plus off Zoloft is like detox; I am fighting off a drug addiction.  I didn't even realize it.  I am still having issues with it.  Tension rises, the E-string gets fucking wound, and then look the fuck out.

"Moby Dick," Led Zep.  Hmmm...

In a city of millions, you can still feel alone.  I have written lyrics for a new song, which will be called "Strangely Unfamiliar."  That's how I felt.  I knew the whole city like the back of my hand; been here for many years, and yet it is not the same.  The change is good, but how to comprehend it, and adjust to it.

I need change; lots of it.  I keep saying I need to leave PA; I have almost nothing to hold me here, but for the off-chance that I can prove to certain people that I have value.  It would provide the base for which I need to do every other thing.

Every other important thing in my life.

I popped into Magic Dragon Comics in Arlington, and I caught up with my old friend and Rocky Horror compadre Eric Carter.  Eric is the former lead singer of Rogue, and a brilliant artist.  He tipped me to some of the independent comic and manga work being done in the area, including that of George O'Connor, former Rocky and Rogue member.

George is author of a zombie type work that is getting some attention out there.  Fully independent, and no strings attached.  

I made my pilgrimage to Newbury Comics, and the Jewelry/Tattoo shop to get a new ankh.  My last one broke; very interesting omen there.

"Rock this Place," Fabulous we're talking.

Getting ready for the show, I could feel a terrible depression come down on me.  Excited to be back, then crashing hard.  

I drifted over to the Harvard Theatre early, and sat across from the place at the church steps.  This is/was the gathering point for the Rocky people for years, before we could be let inside the building.  I thought back to years of being here, being with these people, my people and how it's all going away. Bittersweet memories.

I felt ill.  I didn't want to do this; I didn't want to perform, and I actually thought about no-showing.  But I had to get one last turn on the stage for fun, and to remind myself why I did it all those years.  It was fun; and it was okay to seek that fun out.

There's a terrible guilt trip we lead on people; to enjoy life is somehow a bad thing.  We have to work, make money, find a spouse, fuck the spouse and spit out a bunch of kids, etc., etc., etc.  Modern living.

Most of us never did that.  Well, a lot of the Rocky people are now married, have kids, real jobs, but they didn't lose their sense of fun.  

I had attributed this line to my friend Lisa Risley, but it was not written by her.  In a play Riz directed me in, her character says, "The theatre is a home for lost children."

Think about that.

We are.

I was.

A Lorenna McKennitt song came on...I skip.  I hate to say it, but I find her music annoying.

Carlos del Junco, "Don't Worry Your Pretty Little Head," is next...blues guy, but this is a slow, jazz type of thing with harmonica.  Different.

It's funny what makes the fog lift.  Two ex-cast members suddenly popped up in front of me.  They were not there to perform, but they dropped in.  Then two more.

These photos by the way are on my Facebook; there are two folders, so check those out.

So we all got to talking, like we did, and I felt awake again.  Thanks.

The gang slowly came in...Wombat, the techie for life it seems, and others...the dark, the scantily clad (all ages, haha), and the rest started to show up.  There is a kinship that will never die with these folks.

Another reason to go back.

The show was an all-star mashup of performers, tagging off as the night went on.  I had the middle part, which I fortunately remembered.  I look old...damned old in those pictures that were taken.  But it was fun.

Preshow was an extended set of performances, and a free for all Time Warp.  How do you do that?  All Riffs (4), all Magentas (3), all Columbias (2 or 3), and I got one last leap off the riser.


That was something else.  The good news is, the FBC has a new home, in Boston Common, which begins on August 4th.

"Killer Queen..." -- do I have to tell YOU?!?

Sunday...I hung out with an old friend, Gretchen and I later had my collaborators' meeting with Riz and Jen (the latter the hand behind the Sweet Dreams Series).  

Jen is as crazy busy as ever...she's become a workout junkie, and looks remarkably fit.  We found our way (thanks to Jen's GPS) into the Medford Suburbs...yes, "Meh-fuh" does have them!

Riz's new home with her new boyfriend and his daughter is a wonderfully cluttered little home with lots of intriguing curiosities.  Al is a laconic New Englander, but a good guy.  I liked him immediately.  The youngest daughter, last one at home is Lex.  

Hardcore Otaku.  I love her.  Riz and Lex have bonded over Invader Zim, and numerous other such things.  I have not seen the woman so happy, and she deserves it.

"When a Guitar Plays the Blues," Roy Buchanan--THE SONG THAT STARTED THE SWEET DREAMS SERIES.  ALL OF IT.

So anyway...a certain press is looking at the SDS, manga version.  The possibilities that they will pick up the book could happen.  It's now a wait.

Meanwhile, the cover concept must be set, so we can make a second submission to a publication for previews and promotional purposes.  We're back in the business, again.

Another long night...Monday...I took a walk along the Charles, and for once saw that side of the river along Memorial Drive in a way I never had.  I needed the exercise, and damned if I would get any in the hotel pool.

Hotel.  Pool.  Tourists.  Kids.  Enough said.

I got a good walk into Kendall Square, which has grown up a bit over the years.  Found an indie coffee shop to hang in, and had a scone which weighted about three pounds!  The upwardly mobile, the MIT crowd and the rest all getting on here, as in every place through this city.  Indeed.

I kept walking eventually, back toward the river, and passed a coffee shop I could later go back to.  Voltage. 

This is a minimal, coffee and art place.  Art works hang on its bare walls, and while the coffee is pricey, it's pretty good.  

I did some shopping...yeah, guess what?  I do.

I do think some changes to my life will come; every now and then this snake (my totem animal) needs to shed skin, and I will do that again as time goes by.

Later, I had dinner with Riz, and we talked for three ours.  Another part of the world in Medford has changed:  Wellington Circle is gone.

I worked the Strawberries there from 1989-90.  It's all gone, replaced by a mini-city called Station Landing.  Weird.  It's kind of like Hunt Valley, for those who have never been there and live where I do now.

Riz is dealing with numerous issues, as always, but I feel a corner will turn with her.  About time.  I am hopeful to turn my corners as well.

"Victims of Comfort," Keb' Mo' -- now isn't this an indictment of not just the rich, but quite a few of us?  It is on his first album, great song.

Our modern world has taken us into a corner, all of our own making.  I wonder about what we've done, and what I have to do.

As it stands, I have no job.  I am on-call, for both WITF, Radio PA, and yes, Clear Channel.  There's no work; no unemployment, but I have lived quietly and alright.

I am not starving, and though I fear it, homelessness and being dead-ass broke is not going to happen.  I will not permit it.

"Come into My Life," Robert Plant.

Of course, you must think, "Well, he just took a trip to Boston to hang out with those weirdos from his past!  Blah, blah, blah."

Trying not to worry about it all.  But there is so much that we do think are like the necessities, when they're not really.

So anyway...zoomed outta Dodge early on Tuesday, avoided the holiday rush and bullshit and made it home before noon.  I have before me a lot of work to do, and a lot of changes to make.

These will take a long time.  I do not know if tomorrow I'll have a job, if I'll suddenly have to move, or if something even bigger occurs.

I have had people criticize me for having "no life."

What does that mean?

Look around, and at you:  what do I see?  I see a life that I can't shit on, because I am a part of it.

What do we do in this world?  We make money.

Money provides a lot of things; "breathing room," as my old roommate Kevin once said.  Yes, that's so.

Too much will kill you.  Why make tons of money in a job you don't like?  For what?

To buy a new car, when the one you own runs just fine?  The Silver Saturn is 237,000 miles old, and while I know it's going to cost me to get it inspected, it's still cheaper than buying a new one.  I don't want a new one.

My poor old house that I rent is 90+ years old; the landlady did say that it would be better to raze it eventually, and put another on it.  I was surprised by that, because Alice and I, among others have considered it.

I do love that piece of land, and I would like it, but...with ownership comes responsibility.

Taxes.  Codes Enforcement Officers.  Township Regulations.

Not worth it.

I would rather rent, and know that being a good renter means not just to pay the rent, but to not destroy the house.  I admit, I've not been great to the old spot, but at least I'm not knocking holes in the walls and stealing from the landlord's garage, like a previous tenant is alleged to have done.

David Jacobs-Strain, "Kokomo Blues."  Local guy, really good musician.

I don't go to bars, I don't drink anymore.  I no longer smoke...holy shit, $10 a pack in New York State!  If that doesn't make you quit, I dunno what will!

I do have a membership in a health club, and that has been a good influence.  That plus the people around me.  After one year, I can see benefits.  I am healthier than I have been in almost 20 years.  It's a good thing.

I suppose I am one of the consumer generation, and I do wish I was not so much.  Then again, at this point, I've needed to live quieter, and more simply.

It's not an easy life, but we have to live it.  One has to shed the need to do things, 24/7.  We have to go here, go there, do this, do that, keep up with the Joneses, etc.

Sometimes, it's hard to even just survive, and I know all about it.  You have nothing at times, and you feel the frustration, the anger, the hatred of all who have what you do not.

We're seeing that anger now in politics.  I see people vote against their better interests and judgement, because it makes them feel good for one moment to stick it to someone else.

But what if that hurts you?  Two years later, you'll be screaming bloody murder about THAT.  And you still think it's someone else's fault!

I don't blame anyone for the place I'm in.  It's not about blame.  I don't blame me, or anyone.  I made my calls, and I don't regret it.

If there will be a big step, I will consider it, and take it if I feel it's right.

This is very hard to deal with, when you are considering the drug matter. Zoloft.

Katherine Sharp is the author of a book I'm reading, "Coming of Age on Zoloft."  It's her story, plus that of others.

Worth reading.  It is not an indictment on the drug industry, but it points a finger at it.

Since the 50's we've been drugging ourselves, or letting others do it.  We are a drugged-out generation of feel-good people, and yet we still feel like shit a lot of the time.

Zoloft is like many of these drugs; therapeutically they are satisfactory in the short term.  They help.  But they are NOT meant for life.

I have been on the Big Z 12 years.  I was led to believe it was okay; I was led to believe I'd need it all my life.


I don't fucking need it.  I am amazed that the most creative and productive period of my life occurred during this time.

I realize how hard it is in withdrawal.  My stress, anxiety, and fury return without warning.

I trashed the Vibe Room a couple weeks ago in a fit of rage.  Childish, stupid, immature...yes, but it made me feel better.

I nearly turned into a Road Rage incident in Boston Monday night when I could not find my way from Cambridge to Medford.  W/O the drugs, I get scattered, and I get lost sometimes.  Not good.

I have to learn to step back on my own.  It is very hard.  But I have to do it.

"Fire Woman," the Cult.  Nice.

I'm doing my best, folks.  Hard as hell sometimes, but sometimes it works.

Today, I feel fine.  Tomorrow, who the fuck knows?

My life is one long strange trip, but so isn't yours.

I'm gonna figure out the next step.  If I have to leave PA, which I admittedly want to apart from one chance at a brass ring, so I do.  

Where I go, will be where I'm meant to go.  Back home?  A new land?

Either way, it's gonna be fun, because you have to have fun.  I'm having it right now, telling you all this crazy shit that's going on.

Enjoy your fourth.  The park on a diagonal line from my back lawn is gonna host fireworks tonight.  I just have to go outside.  That will be fun.



  1. I hear ya on the struggle to survive w/ little money thing. I'm not used to living on the edge like this. I see my friends posting pics of their lovely homes and pools and I had that once. Not the pool but the house with the yard. I had a retirement account and savings. It's all gone. Every last penny gone. House gone and got nothing out of the sale b/c of the drop in value. It kills me to be 47 and have nothing to show for my life.

  2. I'm sorry to hear that...part of me says that it doesn't matter what you have at the end of your days, but what you did and how you lived your life. That is small comfort to years of work and sacrifice.

    I sometimes wonder what I will have at the end, and I've learned to let a fair number of things go. Dreams can be delusions, and those are the ones that are nice to have but know they're not practical.

    The best are those that are in your own hands and can be made by them.

    Don't quit, Joanne...we ain't done yet.