Hyper Ballad

I’m seated outside of Hi-Life on the Upper West Side. There is a pint of Stella in my left hand, a turkey burger deluxe with cheddar cheese in my right. I’m looking westward over my dining companion’s shoulder when everything turns hyper-real.

The leaves on the trees vibrate in unison. The brownstones glow amber in the street lights. Traffic moves silently behind me. There is a clarity to the moment that is almost shocking, like I’m on something. But I’m not. I’m wide awake.

My dining companion snaps me from my stupor when she suggests to me that I live an enviable life: part time rock star, full time music journalist, world traveller, city dweller, etc. If I were able to look at it — at me — from the outside, I might be able to agree.

I am grateful for what I have, much of which I’ve built with my own hands, with my own sweat and blood. My Twenties were, it should be noted, fairly unpleasant at times, what with kicking a fifteen year drug habit, wrestling with identity (vinyl pants? fingernail polish?), and career uncertainty. There is something kind of Zen about my present tense. I’ve worked pretty diligently towards a world that is pragmatic and idealistic, deep and simple, capitalist but creative. It works. It’s fun. I can’t complain.

But I’m ever cognizant of what comes next. These days, as I’m sure is apparent to you, Dear Reader, are fairly self-absorbed: single life, solo records, solo trips. What comes next, I hope, will be more outwardly focussed: wife, kids, family. But as I seem to have no control over outcome to that end (short of endeavoring towards increased empathy, generosity, and openness), I’m going to just keep on doing what I’m doing.

I interviewed Aimee Mann a few years ago. Her CD, ‘Lost In Space,’ is illustrated by this great graphic novelist named Seth. He has a collection called ‘It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken.’ And it is. It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken.

So stay strong, stay golden (Pony Boy), and stay tuned.

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