Sometimes secession seems like a good option. Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad the North won the Civil War. I’m glad we no longer have the scourge of slavery, and that the Union held and all that. But just think: if the South had succeeded in seceding, John Kerry would surely be a shoe-in today. Of course, if the South had seceded, George W. Bush would be Czar of Texas instead of our president. (If just Texas had seceded, or Florida, or Tennessee, for that matter, but that’s four year’s ago’s story.)
Other compelling reasons to secede: if New England were its own country, we could be on a different time zone and have Daylight Savings all year long. Here’s why: we all (up here in the Northeast) complain that just when we need that extra sweet hour of sunlight the most, in dour November, the government takes it away from us, as if it were tax dollars or school music programs. Their argument? “Little Georgian school children would have to wait for the school bus in the dark otherwise,” they say. If you examine a map of the US, you will indeed see that Georgia is quite a bit west of New England, indeed neighboring Alabama is in Central time. But if New England were its own country, all we’d have to fight with (we meaning me, here in Western Mass) would be those cranky down Easters in Bar Harbor. They’d probably want TWO extra hours of daylight savings time. And then the sun wouldn’t come up here until 9 am!
We rehearsed as a full band last night over at Katryna and Dave’s house/studio, the great and mighty Sackamusic. Dave had reorganized the furniture, by which I really mean electric music making machinery, amps and the like. I got to Sackamusic first. Amelia said, “Come sit down to dinner, Nerissa. Sit here, next to me,” and she pointed to a tiny plastic purple chair at her play table. I obliged. She was wearing maroon pants with yellow numbers all over them and little braids in her hair.
“Oh, Amelia,” I said. “I love you so much it hurts.”
“Why does it hurt?” she said, cocking her braided head.
“Because,” I explained. “The place in your body where you love is here,” and I pointed at my heart. “It’s called your heart and it’s a muscle. And when it really really loves someone—which is its job, you know—it has to work hard, so hard it hurts a little. But in a good way.”
“In a good way,” Amelia nodded vigorously. “Nerissa, I love you.”
“Thank you Amelia!”
“You know how I know? Because my stomach hurts. Just a little. In a good way.”
Dave Hower got there at 6, followed immediately by Paul Kochanski and we plunged right in, playing straight through the two full length sets we’re doing at the Iron Horse this Saturday—not repeating a single song. We practiced for four hours straight without a break. Although by the end my voice was tired and so was my right shoulder, it was the most fun I’ve had in months. Sitting in that room, bathed in the sounds of those fine musicians, I felt invigorated, suspended.
Maybe we could have a weekly—or even monthly—local gig. I need to play with these people more often.
Maybe just Texas could secede. I’d miss my friends in Austin, though. And I’d need a passport to get there.
I just went through files and files of old Nields memorabilia in the hopes of finding something to inspire a chapter for The Big Idea, my novel about a family from Jintucket, Massachusetts who is also 3/4ths of a rock band. Came across most, if not all our old newsletters. As I was reading through them and chuckling to myself, Patty called on her way down to Mohegan Sun to watch the WNBA.
“Listen to this,” I said.
“Wait!” she shouted. People on cell phones are always shouting. “I called you for a reason! Is the moon full tonight?”
I pulled out my handy ephemeris, for I am an astrology guru-to-be.
“Yesterday,” I said. “Why?”
“Because everyone’s driving like maniacs! “ Patty wailed.
“Lunatics,” I corrected her. “Now listen to this.”
(from the Nields Newsletter #19, winter 1997)
We write this from the Beautiful South! Namely the dressing room of Carrboro, NC’s finest club, Cat’s Cradle. We love this club, and we haven’t even sound checked yet. They gave us jellybeans and popcorn cakes. ‘Nuff said.
We love the south. It’s warmer plus they have Waffle House.
So in case you didn’t hear, I broke my foot. I was stage diving at the Music Farm in Charleston, SC and forgot that you need to have people there to catch you in order to execute the move with optimum grace. Then, three days later (having temporarily established myself as a “stool” performer, something I’ve feared and loathed since the late 70’s during my brief Donny & Marie observing phase) in Birmingham Alabama I fell OFF my stool in the middle of “Alfred Hitchcock” (what can I say? That Les Paul is heavy!) and tumbled forward, making contact with first the mic stand, then a cup of hot tea and ultimately the floor. The combination of the sound of the Les Paul hitting the monitor at full volume and the hot tea falling into my ear led me to the conclusion that I had become deaf. I was very sad. Then I noticed a fan was video taping the entire event. That made me sadder. Then the water fell out of my ear and lo! I could hear again!
I must say, there is something empowering about having your absolute worst performance nightmare (i.e. falling on your face) actually occur and living through it. I want to thank those hundreds of fans in Birmingham who gave me the courage and support to finish that show. Okay, I lied there were only 37 fans there, but still.
END FLASHBACK TO NEWSLETTER; RESUME BLOG IN 2004...
Patty was laughing so hard she had to stop the car by the side of the road, but not so hard that her capitalist brain wasn’t whirring.
“Leave all those newsletters on your porch tomorrow,” she said. “And I’ll take them to Paradise Copies and make them into books and we’ll sell them at your Iron Horse show on Saturday.”
I do love the South. Reading the newsletter reminded me of this. I love the South the way I love certain parts of my own personality. Not necessarily the co-operative parts but absolutely crucial parts nonetheless. Like the part of me that likes pink frilly things. And astrology.
My friend A. from Uruguay says, "From a foreign perspective, especially a Latin American one, there's really no difference between Democrats and Republicans. Kennedy was just as brutal to us as Reagan." I'm trying to hold on to this as some sort of consolation just in case I have to mourn in November. There is a south beyond the south.
I even love George W. Bush. I do. I don't want him to be president, but I have grown to love him, yea these past four years. I cannot tell a lie. There is something endearing about his bemusement. There is something sweet about his visage. He doesn't make my heart hurt the way Amelia does--though he does make my stomach hurt sometimes. Who's to say that's not love? The "worst" happened in 1997-I fell on my face at a gig-and I survived. Much worse things actually happened after that, to me, to the USA, to the world. In the face all this, the pain of this beautiful planet and her lovable craven misguided well-meaning greedy humans, what can we do other than exercise our little heart muscles to the point of near exhaustion? And play on.