In A Sea Black With Ink
I tell this story a lot.
Way back in 1996, just a few weeks into my Wenner Media tenure, the then-managing editor of Rolling Stone Magazine led an intern Q&A thusly: “I’m 37-years-old, I don’t live in New York, and I don’t go to rock shows or movies. Any questions?”
I was floored. Flabbergasted. Agog.
Fast forward thirteen years. I’m the 37-year-old on my way home from my difficult (if not soul-crushing then soul-trying) twelve-hour day tonight when Bruce Springsteen sings to me:
You’re smiling now but you’ll find out
They’ll use you up and spit you out now
Your head’s spinnin’ in diamonds and clouds
But pretty soon it turns out
The Theater District is empty; everyone’s in their seats. Pedicabbies line Ninth Avenue, all wolfing down the dinner from an aluminum tin. Jeff Tweedy chimes in:
There is no sunken treasure, rumored to be
Wrapped inside my ribs in a sea black with ink
Now those are lyrics. Which led me to wonder, will I ever write another good lyric? Then it dawns on me that it’s been a year since I released, “The Invention of Everything Else.”
Everything else: Love, marriage, kids, suburbs, lawns, station wagons, soccer camps, pre-school, high school, graduation, weddings…
I don’t miss the rock shows. Or the movie theaters. And I’d trade it all for today.
About the music, though, I wonder: Is that it? A few hundred rock shows, a couple of albums, and then… and then? What about that Greatest Hits idea? The Covers Album? The Remixes? Nothing beats a couple of rock songs between friends. But where have my callouses gone? Where has the time gone?
Which reminds of my favorite passage from PT Anderson’s “Magnolia.”
Let me tell you something, this is not an easy job. I get a call on the radio, dispatch, it’s bad news. And it stinks. But this is my job and I love it. Because I want to do well — in this life and in this world — I want to do well. And I want to help people. And I might get twenty bad calls a day. But one time I can help someone and make a save — correct a wrong or right a situation — then I’m a happy cop. And as we move through this life we should try and do good. Do good… And if we can do that, and not hurt anyone else, well… then…
I’m home now. I just changed into The Weekender (which is what Abbi calls the cargo shorts and worn oxford I wear all the time), poured myself a Harp, and sat down here in the living room.