Dark's Corner

Getting Into Gear – July 26th, 2001

bing726:

Climbing into The Hole was a fulfilling experience, sort of like immersing oneself in a sensory deprivation tank. An aquaintance of mine, whom I’ll introduce in a bit, actually has one of these marvels of bio-science in his home and has invited me to come out, do some psychotropics and descend into hyper-reality for a spell. I’ll have to admit right here directly, every story that I’ve ever heard regarding the experience has been an eye-opener; revelations from God, complete and total understanding of Self, out-of-body walkabout (or floatabout, as the case may be) and crazy, attractive mind-bending. Fans of the late Douglas Adams will recall his description of The Total Perspective Vortexx from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series of books. In short, the TPV was a black box that you were forced into in order to view a large map of the universe with a tiny arrow pointing to a smallish speck of light with the caption “you are here.” The individual inside usually died of insignificance (except for Zaphod Beeblebrox, the dual-headed egotist of the series who comes off sort of like an intergalactic Howard Stern.) Floating in suspension liquid ala William Hurt in “Altered States” calls to mind nightmarish imagery and pop-culture dramatics, but sign me up, Chonch. Fly me to the moon.<p>

Emerging into the daylight, with my introspections and self-interrogations complete, I’ve gone about the business of plugging myself back into the everyday. Because I have a clearer view of what I’m here on Earth for, it’s easy to pick amongst the offerings that pepper the perpetual buffet of projects, time-killers, space-fillers and societal circumstance. It’s still tempting to take on too much, but the human animal is a would-be conqueror and every windmill is one worthy of being tilted at. It’s natural to fall into the overachiever trap. But really, who’s got the time to overachieve these days? Simple success would be sweet enough at this point.<p>

[[buster726]] Today, I’ve sampled the lingering flavor of success. After three long years of being chauffeured around, I will once again be my own driver. Buster, my bunny-blue ‘91 Geo Metro convertible, is now street-legal and awaiting his return to the open road; freedom fairly screams to me from the driveway. See, when I began the descent into The Hole, I decided to shrug off some of the typical liberties afforded to upstanding citizens of the U.S. The “privilege” of driving, for one. Such a costly thing, the maintaining and securing of a vehicle. First, you have to fill the sucker with gas if you’re to get anywhere; and if you’re inclined to go far, this’ll cost you. Luckily, Buster’s a three-cylinder. A bought-and-paid-for three-cylinder at that. Gas is only scratching the surface, though. There are insurance and registration fees, both of which I was unwilling to break my back for, not to mention my lil’ baby car needed some engine work done and a quartet of road rubbers. Staring at bankruptcy, I sadly parked him and let the Florida sun and rain weatherbeat him into submission. By the end of his highway hiatus, the neighborhood cats were making time and space within the passenger compartment as if it was the world’s coolest feline juke joint.<p>

No longer. Buster’s back. And with his return comes my freedom. The freedom to take off when I want, go where I want and to do it as often as I like without putting anyone out in the process. He’s insured and tagged, had a good changing of fluids and still has only 53,000 miles on him; not bad for a ‘91 model. Just in time for summer too, because that’s what convertibles are for.<p>

[[nh726]] It’ll sure be easier to commute from Melbourne to Orlando for band practice. Naked Head is one item on my once too-full plate that possessed no option for removal. Much like my previous group, Mohave, the whole she-bang came together rather effortlessly with an e-mail going out to me shortly after word spread of our untimely end. I was invited to sit in on a jam session that included Kayonne Riley of The Implications and two members of Snackdaddy; looming, bald bassist Randy Kemp and recently laser sight-corrected drummer Gary Swedo. [[726susandan]] Randy’s wife Susan Materile-Kemp had previously fronted a blues-rock ensemble called Red Club and was anxious to bring her original tunes into a new project. She turned to her very talented stable of friends and began arranging musical get-togethers in search for a mix that was right. The weeks trolled by and Riley didn’t show up again after my first night, leaving me to handle rhythm and leads on dulcimer. Thankfully, guitarist Dan Coppens stepped up to the plate along with his former bandmate in Zu, drummer Zeke Ezekiel. Solidified at six, we made our debut at the first of Melissa Foxx’s Homegrown Music Showcases in March of 2001 and began plotting a slow-boat to China approach in developing what had suddenly come together. Little did I know that inclusion in this groove-rock ensemble would be key to directing the journey into The Hole and I am eternally, spiritually grateful.

Naked Headquarters is how we affectionately refer to Randy and Susan’s adorable little abode around the corner from Will’s Pub. The neighborhood is quite zen; sweetly luscious trees and cozy bricked streets, well-kept houses and a general air of tranquility cloaks the area. It is here that the infamous Naked Head parties take place. These are loverly affairs that involve a handful of friends, musical instruments, Susan’s mind-expanding cuisine and a goodly amount of party favors that insure a heady groove. A little smoke, a little X and the stage is set for an overwhelmingly powerful and positive evening of musical and mental enlightenment. I think it would be fair to say that the married couple of Naked Head has introduced me to the next level of society, brought me up-to-date and close-to-speed on the sub-realities of modern life. [[726gary]] As a pair, they are above par – hopelessly in love with life and each other. The music is icing, but the friends in their circle are the absolute truest kind of Angel’s Food Cake. At the first party, I met the inimitable Robert Kastrinos, sculptor, potter, musician, philosopher and owner of the aforementioned sensory deprivation tank. It was there also that I made the aquaintance of John Coker, a well-seasoned, well-traveled hippie and a highly talented photographer. These two men, older than I but young in their respective outlooks, spoke words to me that transcended so much of what I thought was self-evident. They existed outside the sphere of the everyday while somehow still marking time within that same sphere. You know, working the day job and not letting it pigeon-hole you as a human being; they had done wonders in developing their points-of-view. I remember seeing the party slowly disassemble, a sort of time-lapse exit that finally left only the most hardy revelers blinking at the encroaching sunlight. With every succeeding party, I drew closer and closer to making the decision that would take me out of play for awhile as clarity took shape inside of my head and spirit.

I don’t see Bob and John every week and that’s a shame, but I do get to share space with my bandmates and they are every bit as revelatory and wonderful in their perspectives. “You Are Here” indeed, and happy they are about it. It sometimes seems that the music is almost secondary as we converse about this and that with the ease of old friends who have shared both terrible secrets and wondrous victories. Much more than a band – an extension of family, as cliche’d as that might sound, but it’s true. Which is why it was so difficult recently to embrace a major personnel change.

[[726zeke]] Zeke’s role in the band wasn’t clearly defined for awhile – it was not radically unusual to have two drummers on the riser, but there developed some noticeable frustration and conflict when it came time to assign songs to each drummer according to strengths. The constant switching between songs, from Gary to Zeke and then back again, was a time-muncher and oft-times their dual assault was just that: overpowering the music. Confusion, a little heat under collars, some evident exasperation during practices, it all began to create a snaky vibe that was difficult to ignore. Finally, one night after a particularly sketchy session (Dan calls it “chasing the music”), Randy confided that something had to be done.

[[726randy]] It’s one thing to kick out a bandmember that you just brought into the group and don’t share a longtime acquaintance with. It’s another thing entirely to fire a longtime friend and Randy wrestled with this dilemma. “Zeke’s a great guy, I really love him,” he said. I concurred. As the new kid on the block to this circle of friends, I rightfully felt that I had no insight regarding the interpersonal dynamics of the band. But I knew that I liked Zeke and didn’t want to see him leave the fold, as it were. The groove was off though, in general, something had to be done. So, instead of outright giving Zeke the boot, Randy suggested that he play strictly percussion, leaving the kit duties to Gary.

This didn’t work so well.

And apparently, Zeke knew it. “I’m not a percussionist,” he said after trying to come up with new rhythm parts for songs he was used to drumming on. “It’s like learning a whole new language.” With great grace and humility, Zeke quit the group and showed up at the very next show, cheering us on. It wasn’t the most satisfactory of arrangements – I would’ve loved for the original six to have remained together. At least there seemed to be no hard feelings and a forceful situation was avoided with grace. We are now five in the band and everyone is still friends. You take your victories where you can get them.

[[726chi]] Speaking of victories – my hottie of a wife, Chinesa, just got word from our lawyer that I’m a homeowner. If you’ve been following the story, you’ll know that much ado was being made about my late mother’s estate in Los Angeles. With an infinite amount of drama behind us now, we continue the climb out of The Hole with grace and assurance. With the sale of the house, I’ll be able to take care of the courts and lawyers, purchase a home for us, set up trust funds for my children and look into getting that Winnebago I’ve always wanted. Of course, this will take some time, but all in all the prospects are great for future happiness. As for now, I’ve hit the ground running and have begun to tear back into the Florida arts scene, carefully choosing my projects and leaving plenty of time to share in the wealth of love, family and friends that surrounds me. I don’t know if you believe that everything happens for a reason, dear reader, but consider the coincedences in your own life and analyze them for what they’re worth. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past six months, it’s never underestimate the power of fate.

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.

“bfsig”

Naked Head will perform at Sapphire (54 N. Orange Ave. – 407.246.1419) on August 12th, 2001 with Thaddeus Crumb and Mind Machine for the “Sunday Night Mass” battle of the bands.


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