43 Years Of Bad Ideas
Every year I spend my birthday reflecting on what advancements or changes there have been in my life. So today during my shower and on the car ride to work, in fact, I do a majority of my best writing in the shower or on my drive to and from work. It is one of the few times when I really can focus. I think it is safe to say that I've written at least 20 novels and about 25 collections of poetry while driving or showering. The problem is that often, I didn't bother to write any of it down but I feel that it's important to ferment ideas during times when I have little or no distractions. Another time is right before falling asleep but I wouldn't really advise it cause it does tend to create some rather odd dreams.
At any rate, so today was my day of birth. Roughly 43 years ago, I left my mother's body to pursue a life of independence. Not really that big of an event if you really think about it. I mean all I did was come about, the rest is really what defined my importance. For the most part I go through this every year, it is some deep self absorbed stupidity that usually ends with me being, well a bit under the weather. For this reason, after the age of 27 or so, I had decided that the best thing to do was throw some kind of party but make the focus about something slightly not about myself like a show with a bunch of bands or at the least a very drunken night. It worked well for most of the late 90s and well into this new century that we all belong to but often at the end of fun there would always be this nagging feeling or a rambling discussion often at the discomfort of those most important to me, about what the hell had happened in the last year.
I'm blessed in the fact that there has always been a couple of wonderful souls willing to subject themselves to this nonsense. I'd like to say they did it because they are masochist but truth is that they really care for me and for reasons often unclear to me they feel that putting up with this is a small price to pay for my friendship. Now, I may have fibbed a bit there because I have to say that there are a select few that I too have listened with interest through silly rambling self absorbed discussions and would be willing to do it time and again. It's part of our friendship and bond but I have to say that I usually feel like a complete ass when the realization hits that I subjected them to yet another long winded discussion about my life. I mean how truly dull and drool can one be but to babble on about themselves.
Embarrassing as all this is, I think it is important to state from time to time. I mean it is part of the whole self respective part of birthdays and other time line like events. We uses them to express what seems important at the time. There was a time in my life when I journaled non-stop, In fact every where I went I scribbled often down disjointed prose of my current state of mind. Often these were hidden within the idea that one day they would be used to create some great work or at the least great lyric and to be honest bits and pieces did make their way into lyrics. However a majority of it all was rubbish. I would write them in great sketch books and from time to time some arty now ex-girlfriend would come across these tombs and attempt to translate them from DaVoish into English without much success. You see there was no spell check in the world of hand written often drunken scribbles on paper.
I remember one desperately tried to correct my grammar and a huge fight happening over it. My defense was that I wrote in my own tongue and that changing a letter would be offensive. She fought bravely against this idea and edited as best she could, only to be rejected by me the great artist. I stated that if Falkner could use bad grammar than I the great artist could also use bad grammar. She informed me that as soon as I got an English degree, I could use as much bad grammar as I wished. I promptly gave up on the whole idea because it was far too much work to become this great or at least some what and kind of great artist. My whole concept was that every soul should experience the world through my eyes. I saw anything less as non-artistic. Years later when I read most of this stuff, I have to state that sometimes it was great but a majority of the time it was complete shit.
But that is the thing you have to create shit to create great things. Which brings me back to the real subject of this blog, Bad Ideas. I have to say that if anything was lacking in my life over the past 12 months it would have to be bad ideas. I have to say that I'm very conscience of this fact and it could be because a majority of the wonderful things that have happened in my life started with an awful idea. Now not all bad ideas are ideal, In fact a majority of them aren't and as you grow older it seems that the number of those with bad ideas and the general population of those with bad ideas reduces greatly. This may have something to do with this general love and admiration of wisdom but you can't get wisdom without acting on a whole lot of bad ideas.
When you are in that period between childhood and parenthood it seems like bad ideas are a steady stream of daily life. Some would claim that they are impulses but I don't think that really calls to the true power of bad ideas. To be a truly great bad idea it must have a component of adventure and the unknown and maybe when I reflect on those younger than me and their lack of bad ideas, the adventure and life altering effect of said bad idea seems to be lacking. It could be the added knowledge and wisdom of the effects of bad ideas that we share with those that are younger then ourselves that has stifled the production of truly bad ideas but there seems to be even less of them by the day. I worry often, well maybe not that often but still it does come up, that the bad idea will become extinct and I have to say that the world will become a less interesting place.
I think it is important that I must stress that not all bad ideas are worth pursuing. In fact a majority of them are not but they are often a good time and it should be addressed that often this comes from the point of their creation. For example, it's payday. Your fellow roommate and employee suggests that this is a good day to call in sick and drink the day away. Now at this point it is 9am and beginning the task of drinking at this early hour is a bad idea. This is not because of the effects on your employment or the health damage binge drinking can cause but because at some point, usually about an hour or two into drinking, you are going to become bored with drink at the house and wish to explore the outside world. You just can't help it and soon you are out in public at 11 in the morning drunk and making a complete ass of yourself. The other problem is with such stupid alcoholidays is the ever present fear that due to lack of supply or state laws regarding the selling of sprits, that you are going to run out. So great big stupid bad ideas begin to spring up. Like driving from Des Moines to Chicago for 5 hours because the bars stay open till 4am. Another outcome is that you decide to drive across country at around noon to confess your love for an ex-girlfriend. Only problem is that about 3 hours into the drive you realize that you really don't like them at all but it's too late you are stuck with the option of turning around and driving 3 hours home or trying to make the best of visiting whatever city you have come to this realization in.
In my past I've been the party of many great and wonderful bad ideas. One that comes to mind that I was a party to was in my early 20s. At the time I sorta owned this extremely beaten up and heavily in need of repair house and a kid who's name is lost to time needed a place to stay. I think the introduction came by way of a friend that I had at some point been romantically involved with and this sad fool was currently the victim of that situation. Like most girls around the age of legal drinking, she had a very short attention span and I looked on the kid with pity because I knew first hand how this would end. It was hard to fight back the laughter when he confessed his great love and his big plans for the future. I put up with him because of the promise of rent money and really he didn't take up that much room there on the broken down couch.
The end came quickly, in fact within a day or two of him moving in. The poor kid was destroyed and in my current mind the solution fell in the form of a big bottle of Gilbey Gin. We sat on the couch and mixed it with tonic. We were about two thirds of the way through it when he began to talk of his dreams he'd put on hold for the girl. These dreams involved going to LA and making it big. I can't remember what teenage scheme he had but I brought up the germ of an idea that he had put off this new life in California far too long. The idea firmly planted and another large ice tea glass of Gin and tonic in, he decided that this was the time to seize the monument. Go west boy, go west and all those jokes can to mind as I gave him a few added reasons of drunken logic to not put this off any longer.
Before I knew it we were scrapping up his property into a large duffel bag and a couple of black trash liners. I through them into my Buick, deposited him in the seat and headed to the bus station. He pored out of the car and headed in to get his ticket. He was in luck there was a west bound bus heading out in 15 minutes. I carried the bags into the station, set them down next to him, shook his hand, wished him luck and got out of there. I went home, passed out laughing to myself of this fool traveling half way across the country to a place where he didn't know a soul with barely enough in his pocket to afford the ticket all because this girl had broken his heart. Maybe if I'd known him longer or been a closer friend I would have tried to talk him out of it but I didn't know him that well and who was I to stand in the way of his dreams.
I didn't really give the whole thing much attention after that until a few days later I received a collect call from him. He was somewhere in western Nebraska. I guess he had only bought a ticket to get him there. I never did find out what he's plan from there was but he was broke and stranded but good and rather anger at me for not stopping him. As soon as I got off the phone, I couldn't help but laugh and feel a bit put off that he blamed me for something that was for the most part completely his bad idea. I went back to cooking my meal of pasta and sauce only to be interrupted by the phone again. This time it was the girl and she was rather angry with me two. Claiming that the whole situation was my fault and how dare I do this to her boyfriend. I guess she decided she wanted him back and that was why the phone had been ringing all morning cause she was trying to get a hold of him. I had just figured that it was bill collectors or my mom cause everyone else knew that I wouldn't answer before noon.
She went on and on and at one point I sat the phone down and ate my meal. When I came back to the phone, she was still yelling at me and hadn't even noticed that I wasn't listening. When she calmed down I told her that I didn't feel that it wasn't my fault. She refused to relent and at the end of the conversation, I offered to contribute a little of a fund to get him back. I think I threw in $10 or so and stopped excepting the frantic collect calls from him. The kid wasn't a punk and was more into the new romantic/industrial scene and dressed a bit on the feminine side. So I'm sure he stuck out in the west Nebraska of 1990.
A couple of weeks went by and I had all but forgotten about him, when the girl showed up asking if I would buy her a couple of bottles and six pack. I think she was 20 or so. I said sure and she handed me the money and we hit the HyVee at Harding Hills and then headed back to the house. I asked her if the kid was back. She laughed and said no and then informed me that the money for the booze had come from the fund to get him home. As far as she knew he was still there. I never did find out what happened to him but whenever the idea came up to flee in the middle of the night, I remembered him.
Not all bad ideas end in misfortune and many a good idea is hidden with a group of bad ideas. There have been a number of bad ideas that have shaped my life and those around me. One that comes to mind was starting to pierce in 1994 in Des Moines, Iowa. Piercing was still for the most part an underground thing here and trying to make a living on it then and at times even now is a bad idea. The thing is that bad idea has done more to shape my life and been a continuing joy ever since. I can't really imagine my life without it and there have been numbers of times over the years when I've considered giving it up only to be pulled back in.
Everyone and their brother thought promoting national bands at Safari was a bad idea. Sure there was very little money in it but most believed that it was a bad idea and something that would never work here. See people often base their belief on something being a bad idea because it's unknown or unfounded. For every explorer, innovator or pioneer there must have been at least a thousand people around them that thought it was a bad idea. If I and others before and after hadn't had unproven bad ideas there would have never been a music scene here and a big part of my and other's life would have been a great deal more empty.
Sophia John and Slipknot come to mind when it comes to bad ideas. Sophia moved here from Lincoln to work at a the last indy radio station Des Moines would ever have, 107.5 the Dot. She had the bad idea that she was going to get a band from Des Moines signed to a label. This is something that had never happened. In fact to the best of my knowledge the only other major label band from the area was the Hawks and that was way back in the early 1980s. Through the stations battle of the bands, she came in contact with the budding Safari scene and Slipknot.
Now Slipknot from the start was a collection of Bad ideas. In fact they had long late night sessions drumming up bad ideas at the Sinclair station Joey worked at. Many of them were abandoned thank god. For example Shawn wanted to have a pet baboon that sat on a parch in front of his drums while they played. I remember him telling me this and me explaining that the baboon would more than likely freak out, rip his arm off and beat him to death with it. Many of these Slipknot bad ideas were a continuing source of amusement but out of them came a number of good ideas that lead to them becoming one of the largest metal bands in the world.
When I look back, I can't help but wonder if I hadn't been a party to a number of these bad ideas where I would be today? Sophia is one of my oldest and closest friends. Through piercing I met Paul who was one of the greatest champions of bad ideas I've ever known. Also I met my son's mother through Piercing and I can't imagine not having him in my life. Another important figure in my life is Lanny that I doubt we would have become close without the connection of music and body art.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that you should embrace bad ideas especially if they are the source of a dream. Sure the out come may not be good or anything like you thought it would be but without them the world is a dull and uninteresting place. I have to state that I don't regret the bad ideas that shaped my life and I can only hope that they continue to shape my life in a positive way like they have in the past.