Darkness Descends

Bing Futch was another columnist on the scene long before I took over Columns. Bing blew my goddamn mind because he talked about the Orlando music scene as something good and something vital, whereas IÃd pretty much ignored it during my time there, with the exceptions of Eyelight and Backlash. DarkÃs Corner made me feel like I was legitimately missing out on something massive. For the first couple of years, Bing concentrated mostly on scene reporting, gig reviews, band news, artist spotlights, and sporadic updates of his own artistic activities ñ all laced with hefty doses of his theorizing and philosophizing. Around about the year 2000, he decided to fuck with his own format; objectivity went out the window (bye bye), and he spent a lot more time talking about music and, yes, life through his eyes. This approach culminated in the epic and intensely personal ìFor Whom This Bell Tolls,î do yourself a favor and read that one in its entirety. Oddly enough, this new approach also culminated in a number of legal threats delivered to Ink 19 headquarters, which I thought was pretty damn cool. Now itÃs Autumn 2001 and Bing Futch and DarkÃs Corner are still going strong, with Bing at the center of a madly improvised jumble of words, outlooks, and experiences. ItÃs never enough.

What weÃve got here is just a few of MY favorite Bing Futch riffs, culled from three years worth of DarkÃs Corner essays. For an added treat, I cajoled Bing into adding some new commentary and perspective to these excerpts. ThatÃs the bold bits that are scattered through the text. Have fun!

Band Buffet – October 3, 1998 (First DarkÃs Corner)

The Scene is an idol that gets bowed to often by quite a few slobbering bands who dream of phat green rooms and riders that can demand any shade of M&M’s that they desire…

[Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, did I use the word “phat”?]

…Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Athens have already established the stereotypical vibe of “integrity lost” that permeates the big music towns, even Nashville is starting to smell really bad. There’s no reason that a violent, corrupt, backstabbing system needs to develop any further in central Florida, particularly O- Town. Let those other cities crumble like sea salt, corroded from the inside….

[I think this is where the crusade started. Believing in Orlando and wanting to see it grow into a class act, I began to massage ideas that would, I thought, hopefully make artists in town think about this wonderful city and how lucky we are to live in it.]

…The 21st century, m’friends, is all about independence. Grass roots, do-it-yourselfishness, it’s all right to hit the road yourself with the propaganda, no one has to do it for you. Sure, the record companies are looking for good, no–great artists to fill their rosters. Only the best. Stellar. Guaranteed (they hope) to make millions. It’s not about the person behind the shirt and glasses, it’s about The Product. You’re meat. To be slapped onto the world’s buffet table, and you know the kind of people who are too fucking poor to afford a nice prime rib at Outback–so they go to some five dollar buffet and spend 20 minutes loading up their trays ahead of you. All you want is some of the chicken and a little sauce.

[Goddamn, the very first column! I love metaphors and similes, modern day parables that are easy to digest like Aesop. I think I was really trying to develop a voice at this point in time, some signature style that didn’t copy my peripheral knowledge of writers like Kerouac or Thompson. I’ve never read either of them (though I did see “Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas” and was mesmerized) but was well aware of their respective voices. To this day, I refuse to read their works for fear (and loathing) of aping.]

art and attitudes – November 10, 1998

I left Los Angeles, California with only my blue Metro convertible, a couple of keyboards and a trunk filled with non-poisonous snakes. Arriving here in the wet meadowlands of central Florida in 1993, I promptly stepped into a job waiting tables at the Hollywood Diner on U.S . 192. Stints at Sea World, Universal Studios and Disney followed before I went “pro” in 1995, began working out of the studio and performing live. It was a little difficult to remain cheery, and a good part of my problem was not being able to see the joy for the bullshit. To be fair, times have been both good and bad–but not until recently has my general attitude been a positive one. The longer you tread soil on earth, the easier it is to get jaded, worn out on the concept. Grasping the magic you felt as a child is more difficult as you grapple with the day-to-day concerns of adulthood. The Responsibility Of Life. Now just add the fact that you’re an artist, prone to moodiness, capable of violent mood swings and deep, deep depression. Capital gains is on the brain, and who can’t help it when you’re going insane wanting sushi and egg nog, maybe even a new car–but you can’t do any of that, because just paying rent is killing you and it seems that any money that gets plunked into your art stays there.

[I’ve been criticized by editors for putting too much of myself into CD reviews, concert reviews and what-have-you. It was quite a joy to say “FUCK OFF!” to them when the columns started landing in my lap. Narcissistic? Sometimes. But I really figured I had some lessons to impart, like someone might identify with my crazy-ass lifestyle. Ian Koss embraced this approach and never reined me in. For that, I’m grateful. It’s a dubious voice, but a voice nonetheless.]

Six Points Of View – May 2, 2000

Take for example, my desperate struggle to get paid by Jam Magazine. After corporate publishing whores Creative Loafing took the magazine over late last fall, a series of hirings, firings and overall design changes asserted the basic assumption that the rag wasn’t interested in the affairs of the local musician. But who did? The Orlando Weekly certainly was involved in coverage, but few CD reviews and more of a focus on civic and community affairs takes it out of the essential loop. Ink 19, not as broad an approach to entertainment, a basic rock-n-roll culture exudes out of the choices of video, film and music editorial. Sabrina Steen, who began Buzz as a big “so there” to former employer Jam, has disappeared from the Florida publishing circles and hasn’t been seen by a goodly number of folk for quite some time…

[Whoo-ha-ha! As I add comments to this collection that Matthew has dredged up, I’m actually instant messaging with Ms. Steen who has still yet to re-appear on the Florida publication frontlines. She’s still nutty as a fruitcake, but is offering me a last word column right this instant. Yes, more Bing saturation. Goody.]

…One has to wonder. Axis caters mostly to the college crowd with major attention focused on fashion spreads and “where’s the best bar to drink at?” polls, along with editor Sean Perry’s futile attempts to define a scene by the national buzzwords that he hears spilling off broadcast TV. That and his vested interest as a manager of virginwool take away some of his objectivity when it comes to presenting his view of the scene…

[Ooh, I tell you what – Perry took great offense to this passage and let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t pleased with my opinions regarding Axis or his other business dealings. I took his displeasure as a compliment. Why bother writing if you can’t piss people off?]

…Padgett likewise pushes the band Precious whenever he gets the chance–it’s a God-given right to have these interests, as a journalist/musician, the line between covering the scene and playing the scene can become a cumbersome one–it takes a special something to retain a neutral, balanced point of view. Like the one that you’re reading, hah. Oh hah.

[Hmmm. Sort of lost my train of thought there with this last passage. If there is any one strong influence in my writing style, it comes from the poet Ogden Nash. The final line above is very much indicative of his silliness.]

The Good, The Bad And The Painful – June 14th, 2000

But that would mean canceling the gig! This is a much-hated thing to do, it’s only happened with me once–and that was due to a car blowing up on a slick, rainy night. I’ve played sick, bleeding and exhausted, but bulldozed my way through whatever gig was impending. The severity of the sensations won over pride and gung-ho, I apologized to the on-duty staff and was led away to Orlando Regional Medical Center…

[Ooch. Ouch. Spider-bite revisited.]

By the time we reached the emergency room at Lucerne, I needed help to walk, my legs felt like pasta. In the waiting room, after signing the papers that proclaimed I was destitute, my head sagged to Chinesa’s shoulder and happy thoughts buzzed around in my head. “Stay awake, don’t go to sleep,” she said. Or something like it–my friend Ken sat on the other side and eyed me with concern. It was as if all of my energy had suddenly faded, like I had been narcotized. Hours passed in states of wakefulness until a bed opened up. They were probably looking for a way to re-direct me to ORMC general, since Lucerne was a private facility, but soon gave up and opened their clinic to the pauper. Nurse Theresa was a smiling, happy face in the otherwise dreary hospital atmosphere. The doctor was a less enthusiastic soul, checking me over with heavy lidded eyes and running down the checklist of patient questions like “when was the last time you were hospitalized?” and “do you use any illegal substances?” As I left the nurse’s station, I called out “thanks again” to him, but he turned only as I was heading out the door, his dulsatory gaze bouncing indifferently off of my back…

[Way to fuck up “desultory”, I guess this was pre-spell check for me. I think it was around this time that I realized my life was meant to be exploited in print. Not many people have shit happen to them in such wildly imaginative ways – there’s absolutely no need to make up craziness in this column. Craziness just happens and I try my best to turn it into reading material that entertains and sometimes, warns. Like, when you feel something walking across your leg, smack the bitch!]

For Whom This Bell Tolls – June 20th, 2001

Sitting in the middle of the Valley Of Fire will do this to you, or then again – it may not. But it did it to me. I had already been wrestling with myself (like Jacob wrestled the angel, I suppose) about whether or not I was truly evil at heart. In my heart, I thought I could go either way. To me, Yin and Yang called for balance of the spirit. Man is naturally pre-disposed to be a self-serving, vicious creature – we aren’t far removed from the apes that may or may not be our predecessors. Man is also capable of great acts of love and compassion but I believe that both are present in each and every one, like male and female originates within every homo sapien. Good and evil in all. Who’s to say where the middle ground lie? All this time, I thought I was doing right by Something or Someone, but not all. In this life, my life, there was no yardstick. I made up the rules as I went along and damn the society that demanded I follow their example. One hit of Ecstasy, then two and all of a sudden – I’m trying to decide if I love my children or not. No-one had guilted me up to this point, I stood firm in my decision to sally forth and attempt to make it up to them with points on the back end. Based on my own experiences with my father, who split from my mother so early in my life that I don’t even remember him being there at the dinner table, I had conviction that was unmatched by anyone I had ever met. I never met Frank Lloyd Wright, who has gone on the record saying that he never gave a feather or a fig for his kids and that he much rather enjoyed designing houses. My own interest in my children sometimes echoed that, not out of meanness, but out of a detachment that found its way into other relationships as well. In fact, the solitary lifestyle was one that I embraced for the very reason that people, in general, bug the shit out of me.

[::low whistle:: This is the most honest I’ve ever been in print. This column came at a crucial time in my life and no holds were barred. So I half-nelsoned myself, piledrived myself, held myself against the ropes and stuck a fork in my own eye. It felt fucking great and released me from the demons that raped and pillaged my brain. More self-centered rants, but the response to this particular soliloquy was outrageous. People understood and didn’t condemn, it seemed. Most satisfying to know.]

Love’s Labours Lost – August 30th, 2001

It was then, as I sat down with perfect timing to eat some of Lenore’s spicy meatballs, that Tom calls out the next act, “Bing Futch!” he says. There was a big cheer from the drunken throng as I paused the meatball-bearing fork in front of my face and looked at the stage with sullen disbelief. What am I gonna do, some Queen? I sauntered up, plugged in, and after strumming some mellow dulcimer riffs, I planned on bowing out gracefully and thanking them for that word from this sponsor. However, I suddenly heard drums from behind me and it was too late to back out. Launching in to “Black Indian”, I found myself joined by Captain Fat Bastard of Chokehold on two beer bottles that he had drained to a couple of pitches in the song, more or less. Standing impishly in front of the mic stand to my left, as impish as his ample girth would allow, he blew into the bottles as two back-up singers popped up on my right, tempos and meters going everywhere. Soon, some other guys are walking on-stage and it suddenly began to resemble an old Monty Python skit that I’d seen sometime, so I started mugging and ad-libbing words and mercifully, it was all over in about five minutes. When I returned to my bar stool, the meatballs were gone. I never did get any godddamn meatballs.

[Matt, you’re beautiful. Matt – he chose all of these passages, these excerpts, and this one lovingly recreates a moment of intense conflict. I wanted to go on-stage during this Musician’s Appreciation Night and rock hard. What I ended up doing was failing miserably, but still found a way to make it at least somewhat entertaining. If there’s a red-common-thread in all of these snippets, it’s my willingness to slice open the skin that covers the soul and bare it for any who might find truth or something like it. If anyone can find salvation in my stupidity, then it’s worth it to look like a fool. If anyone deems me wise, then that’s alright too. I’m blessed to have this forum.]

• •

All of that and more courtesy of the DarkÃs Corner, updated regularly at http://columns.ink19.com/darkness – part of Columns at Ink19, home to all good things. ◼

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