For the wife of Augustus Reynolds.

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He looked down at her and she smiled as she saw him.
He had not seen her in months.

The moments of lucidity came less frequently and he thought they had all but disappeared.

Her eyes clear, she smiled, “I know you.”
He nodded “I know you too.”
“You’re still here.”
“I’ll never leave.”

Before he could finish she had slipped away again.
He sighed.

Walking over to the player he queued up Brahms and pressed play.

He walked back and sat down next to her bed.
Grabbing her hand he decided to tell their story one more time.

He told her they met over 65 years ago when they were kids.
He reminded her that it was she who greeted him.
He told her how he was immediately smitten.

He reminded her that they dated as kids but she broke up with him because he was a fool.
He told her how he never stopped loving her, even as he meandered and she married.

He reminded her that through the years they would communicate infrequently, but just frequently enough to keep his feelings for her alive.
He told her that he never said anything because he was a fool.
He told her of the joy he felt when he finally did.
He reminded her she wasn’t buying it.

He let go of her hand as he got up to get some ice to wet her dry lips.
Walking to the ice bucket he looked over his shoulder and reminded her that their timing was awful and asked her why couldn’t they ever seem to get that right.

He walked back with a cup of ice, picked a cube up and lightly began rubbing her lips.
He reminded her that it was those lips when they finally said, “I love you”, were the last lips he touched. The last lips he desired.

He sat back down, grabbed her hand and told her he loved her.
He reminded her that he always had.

He reminded her of the rough start they had.
He told her how she tried to hate him as he pushed her patience.
He reminded her of how angry she would get and that he understood.
He told her he had waited 30 years he could wait more.
He reminded her that for all his impatience, she had all of his patience.

He told her of the life they eventually built together.
He reminded her of the trips they took.
He showed her photos of the dogs they raised.
He told her she once left him for reasons she would never explain.
He reminded her that he understood and forgave her when she returned.

He told her that she was the one who inspired and drove him.
He reminded her that whatever success he had was only because of her.
He told her he needed her more than anyone or anything.

He screamed at her that he didn’t want her to leave.

He stood up and looked down at her.
She smiled as she turned to him.

Her eyes clear, she smiled, “I know you.”
He nodded “I know you too.”
“You’re still here.”
“I’ll never leave.”

The Bridge – Until I’m One With You

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Last night was the season two premiere of FX’s The Bridge. And the show came flying out of the gate, introducing a cacophony of story lines. Which I am sensing is becoming a pattern with FX shows. Kurt Sutter did it last year in the premiere of his Sons of Anarchy and Sutter was able to tie everything together by the end of the season.

I’m fairly certain show runner Elwood Reid will be able to do the same here. It will be hard, but from what I saw last night, its gonna be a helluva ride.

While the storyline will certainly change and evolve over the coming weeks, the cast remains the same…as does the haunting intro by Ryan Bingham. You might recall Ryan Bingham as the guy who seemingly came out of nowhere with the award winnng song “The Weary Kind” from the 2009 movie Crazy Heart.

“Until I’m One With You” is still as haunting and beguiling as it was last year when I first heard it. And it still serves as the perfect theme song to a, just shy of, perfect television show. If you are looking for a punchy intro, a’la Mike Post, for a punchy crime drama, this isn’t the show. But that song…

“Until I’m One With You” completely ignores any sort of traditional song structure or pedantic rhyming scheme. It’s lonely and haunting guitar accompanying Bingham’s raspy voice and plaintive lyrics makes for one of the most affecting songs in recent memory. It’s the beautiful simplicity of the vocals and the lyrics that seemingly wants to tell us what love should be but it’s the tone of the song and a closer listen to the lyrics that reminds us of the complexity that love always is.

As a stand alone song, it’s jaw dropping in its condensed intricacy. As a television show theme song? Unprecedented…almost.

Not since the Jonathan Wolff jazz riffs for Seinfeld has a song worked so well in tandem with a shows theme. Wolff’s bass bits helped frame the tonality of comically punchy Seinfeld while Bingham’s song frames the tragedy and drama of The Bridge.

Both songs worm their way into your head so that you are enraptured from the first note and the first frame and they both converge beautifully so that sound and image become inescapable.

Ryan Bingham seems to be channeling the lyrical prowess of Greg Brown and the restraint of guitarist Bo Ramsy. Which are both really good things.

What is “Until I’m One With You” about ? I dunno. It reveals very little lyrically and you are left to interpret what you can from the songs pacing, Bingham’s singing and a closer reading of the lyrics. My gut tells me it’s not about unrequited love or a break up, as I initially thought. I think it’s about something much more tragic.

I want to believe that the show is smart enough that the song will fit snugly with the arc of this first series. But I will have to wait and see. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still a helluva song.

You’re never going to see anyone twerking to Ryan Bingham’s “Until I’m One With You” because, well, it’s not that type of song. It’s never going to be a hit and it will probably never receive an award. The recording industry doesn’t typically give awards to this type of stuff.

Last year The Bridge deservedly won a Peabody Award for excellence, but Ryan Bingham did not. Which is a shame because this is the type of song that Peabody’s, or even MacArthur Genius Grants, should be given.

Yea, it’s that good.

It Holds Up

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In September of 1994 the wounds were still too fresh.

Sounding like Kurt Cobain was a sore spot for a lot of people. But the legacy of any good artist is their influence and in the case of Kurt Cobain, we saw that influence almost immediately from Australia’s Silverchair.

Made when they were teens, their 1994 debut Frogstomp contained the hit song “Tomorrow“. It was a monster song that defined that autumn of our grunge discontent. And 20 years later it still sounds pretty good, perhaps even better because it’s a little further removed from the shadow of Nirvana.

The cynics will say Silverchair was the record companies attempt to fill the void and capitalize on a trend (I’d like to see what those cynics were doing when they were 16). And maybe they’re right…but good music holds up and good bands build careers. Time ultimately proves who matters, not the cynics

To Silverchair’s credit, and their talent and strength, they’re still a successful and creatively viable band (the band is currently on an “indefinite hiatus”). I guess it’s those things that makes this song, and the band, 20 years on, still ring true.

Good music never lies and it never dies.

 

I Joined AA

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No, no, not Alcoholics Anonymous…Assholes Anonymous.

The 12 Steps of Assholes Anonymous

  1. We admitted we were assholes—that we’ve done really asshole-ish things to people and kinda feel bad about it…sometimes.
  2. Came to believe that while we are assholes, there are plenty of BIGGER assholes and that helps us keep our sanity.
  3. Made a decision to somewhat change our lives and hope that God, or whatever, is OK with it.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves…and realized we weren’t that bad (see Step 2).
  5. Admitted to God, or whatever, to ourselves, and to another human being, or dog, the exact nature of our asshole-ishness.
  6. Were kind of ready to have God, or whatever, remove some, not all, of these defects of character (or asshole like traits).
  7. Humbly asked God, or whatever, to remove some, but not all, of our shortcomings…and to stop stealing the coffee mate at meetings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we’ve been assholes to and promise not to be that way to them again…unless they’re genuinely dicks, (I’m looking at you Kevin Aronson).
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when they start running through a laundry list of shit we’ve done and/or acting passive aggressively.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promise to admit it…at some point later when everyone has forgotten about the severity of the transgression.
  11. Sought through the use of hallucinogens, barbiturates and vodka to improve our conscious contact with God, OR WHATEVER, hoping only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out…or something.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other assholes, and to practice these principles in many, but not all, of our affairs.

To date, our meetings have usually disintegrated into scenes right out of Fight Club, so…yeah, you might wanna keep that in mind.

We definitely have some work to do organizationally.

We also have a “big book”…it’s just a book of fiction. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Some people may ask why. You’ll have to come to our meetings to find out.

Because we’re assholes (or assholes in recovery), we hold most of our meetings in bars (that may actually explain the fights), so check your local craigslist to see where we are meeting next. We have meetings in most major cities.

Please note, while we welcome newcomers, we strongly encourage anyone in any other recovery program to not be involved with ours. Being that they’re held in bars, and step 11, it’s probably not a good idea.

We would encourage you to set up your own AA, Assholes Anonymous, meeting in a venue more conducive to maintaining your sobriety (we’re assholes, not savages).

Lost the Battle. Winning the War.

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A little over three years ago, a girl I was dating ended our relationship…for the second time. She had determined that “maybe there was someone better out there.”

I assured her that indeed there was…and always would be. I tried telling her that was an endless and futile search because it didn’t matter who she was with, there would always be someone better. I tried telling her that eventually the sheen wears off in a relationship and you’re just two people looking at one another trying to figure it out, how to keep your individuality…and your sanity.

But, she had her own journey to go on and no matter what anyone tells you, experience is the best teacher.

What follows is the last night we spent together.

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I spent time with the X the other night. We went to go see Adele at The Beacon Theater.

Prior to meeting the X for the show, I went for my traditional meal at what used to be called City Grille and is now called something else. For the past three or four shows I’ve seen at the Beacon I have always done my pre-game there.

As long as the X was going to be meeting me later, outside the theater just before the show, I wasn’t going to stop my tradition.

The formerly named City Grille was crowded and the only spot open at the bar was next to a young woman. My inside voice said “Ugh, I have to sit next to this woman and then I’ll be forced to have awkward bar talk with her.” Given the density of the bar, it looked like I had no choice.

Sure, she was an attractive woman. She had dirty blonde hair, wearing black jeans and a nice cream-colored low-cut v-neck shirt. Just low enough to size up her breasts (supple and pouting). My guess put her age in her mid 30′s.

I really didn’t want a table, so I saddled up to the bar and took my seat next to her. I quickly noticed that she had an inordinate amount of luggage.

I asked if the seat next to her was taken and she smiled and said “No”. She fidgeted around moving her bags, I said “Don’t worry about it, you’re fine.” She was drinking a Manhattan and the minute I noticed how tasty hers looked, I knew that was what I wanted. She looked at me after I ordered my Makers Mark Manhattan up, and said “It must be a Manhattan kind of night.” To which my smooth and elegant reply was a one/two punch, the trademarked Higgons nod, and cool “Yea, I guess so.”

Once I got comfortable in my seat, I pulled out whatever rag I had in my bag so I could avoid any awkward bar conversation and kept my phone on the bar so I could see it go off when the X was close by.

When I was in my 20′s, I was a bartender. Frankly, I hated striking up conversations then, but since my income depended on it, I did it. I usually found the conversations banal…at best. Those years tending bar only added to my pre-existing nuclear hatred of bar conversations.

Having just been dumped I knew that eventually I’ll need to get back in the game…and date. But not now. Not tonight. I needed to move in slow, small ways first. Break the mold, break tradition and do things I never do.

So I decided to do something I never do. I struck up a bar conversation.

“Are you coming or going?” I asked as I looked at her luggage.

Immediately, fear set in and I thought “Christ, what if she had a blow out with her boyfriend and was leaving him?”

“What?” she replied.
“The luggage”, I pointed to the bags, “you have a lot of it.”
“Oh, no, no, I have to carry this every day.” She grabbed a big satchel to her right, that seemed to weigh about 40 pounds judging by the strain on her face as she held it up, “This is my computer.”

Whoever she worked for must use laptops from the mid 1990′s.

“Oh, geez. That’s a lot of stuff.” Yes, I used the word geez, social awkwardness comes rather naturally to me.

“Yea. I work for a liquor distributor and that,” she pointed to the black carry-on suitcase “has all of my samples and promo stuff for clients.” Since I encountered many of her kind as a former bartender, we started a little chat.

The conversation was choppy at first, but it wasn’t awkward. You know how those bar conversations can be, start, stop, start, stop, startstopstartstop and then eventually become more fluid…usually around the third drink.

About half way through my Manhattan she asked me if I ever tried any other bourbon besides Makers Mark. I said no, and explained I typically have one Makers Mark Manhattan (fortunately, that was her product) and call it a day. I’ll allow myself two if it’s a Friday. She said, “Oh come on, it’s Thursday, it’s close enough. Besides, I’m buying.”

Chivalry be damned, I accepted the drink.

We talked about what I do and she seemed interested, unless I misread her confusion as actual interest. Even I can admit that what I do would bore a dead person.

But when I mentioned I made soap, she got excited…and just at that moment her phone rang. “Oh, excuse me I have to take this.” This simple acknowledgement told me I was spot on with her age because no one says that anymore. Certainly not anyone under 30, they just selfishly reply to a text or answer the phone, regardless of those around them. I smiled and said “No, no problem.”

My shrimp cocktail and salad arrived and I began eating and made no attempt to listen in to her conversation. She eventually finished and hung up and apologized…yes, apologized for taking a call…at a bar…while talking to a stranger!

I asked her why she got so excited about the soap thing. “Oh, I just think it is fascinating what people do outside of their regular jobs. It always seems more interesting and it says something about who they are.”

Good lord, who was this girl?

I wiped my hand on my napkin and extended it “My name is Keith.” She laughed and accepted it, “Hi, I’m Sam.”

We then just chatted about her job and how she spends all week going to bars and drinking and hates going out on weekends. She said she was waiting on her Account Executive so they could go circulate through the bars on the Upper West Side and promote their spirits.

Eventually, her AE showed up, we all shook hands and they dove into their talk about the nights activities. The time came for them to move to a different part of the bar as their party had swelled to 5 and the corner of the bar was too small. So, he shifted the group further down the bar. Sam stayed put. “I don’t want to move.” she said.

I silently told myself that I still had it…until Sam hipped me to the reality, “I just really like the corner seat.” No ego bruise here because who could argue? The corner seat is almost always the best seat at a bar. Unfortunately, she was obligated to go down and join the group.

Sam apologized about having to move, said she enjoyed talking and we shook hands again. No cards exchanged, no awkwardness, no “we should hang out” bullshit. This was just a genuine exchange between two people who wanted nothing more from the other than a little conversation to kill time.

It was simply a moment.

Minutes after that moment ended, another one immediately queued up.

I got a text from the X that she was leaving work and taking a cab uptown. I settled up with the bartender and walked the two blocks over to the Beacon Theater. I saw her get out of the cab from across the street.

She looked good, per usual, and that one second butterfly in my stomach was immediately replaced by agita. I walked across to meet her and we awkwardly looked at each other. You see, the X and I have stopped hugging and cheek kissing each other hello. That’s a sign of intimacy and friendship I am not ready to acknowledge with her.

“Hey.” I said.
“Hey.” she said.
“How was the shoot?” I asked.
“Good” she replied.

These were the types of conversations we had these days when we saw each other. Short choppy ones lacking substance. Which then had me wondering if there was ever any substance to our relationship? I like to think there was, at one point.

We walked in to the Beacon and grabbed a couple of overpriced beers and made small talk about a shoot I had recently for my soap. The opening act stopped and we made our way to our respective seats, which were not together. She in the orchestra and me on the third balcony.

Because there was still some more time to kill we texted one another to meet on the second floor for another beer.

We had talked about going away for a weekend together to button up our relationship. Conclude it. Get closure. Put the final nail in the coffin. We had penciled it in a few weeks away and I brought it up as we stood around the second floor waiting for Adele.

She said, “Oh I can’t go away that weekend.”
“That’s fine. I am not sure I really see a point to it anymore.”

Which was the truth. Even though it was my idea and something I thought we both could benefit from, the reality is our schedules are kinda wacky for a while and by the time we actually could realistically do it, it would be pointless.

“Well, I am kinda hurt by that.” she said. “It’s just that my mom is going to be in town…” and then I tuned out.
I gave one of my trademarked left shoulder shrug as if to say “I don’t care why you can’t go.” She wasn’t the only one who hurt.

We chatted about something, god knows what, until it was time to return to our seats. As we parted, she looked at me all doughy eyed and said “I feel like I want to do something.” I presume she meant kiss me because that was what we used to do. But I just looked at her and gave her another left shoulder shrug and said “I’ll see you after the show.” She silently nodded and went downstairs as I went up.

A few songs in Adele hit the opening of Don’t You Remember. Nothing could have struck more of a chord. I texted the X in the middle of the song and said “Don’t you remember”? She replied “Yes”.

When will I see you again?
You left with no goodbye, not a single word was said,
No final kiss to seal any seams,
I had no idea of the state we were in.

I know I have a fickle heart and bitterness,
And a wandering eye, and a heaviness in my head.

But don’t you remember?
Don’t you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more.

When was the last time you thought of me?
Or have you completely erased me from your memory?
I often think about where I went wrong,
The more I do, the less I know.

But I know I have a fickle heart and bitterness,
And a wandering eye, and a heaviness in my head.

But don’t you remember?
Don’t you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more.

Gave you the space so you could breathe,
I kept my distance so you would be free,
And hope that you find the missing piece,
To bring you back to me.

Why don’t you remember?
Don’t you remember?
The reason you loved me before,
Baby, please remember me once more.

When will I see you again?

After the show, we met in the lobby and exchanged a brief conversation about how amazing Adele was. We agreed to share a cab home to Brooklyn.

I won’t bother telling you what was said as we got out of the cab and talked on the corner. I won’t bother telling you who raised their voice and who cried. I won’t bother telling you who texted what to whom as I walked home.

It’s some sad shit.

After the last terse text on my walk home, it dawned on me that this second break-up had very little to do with me. This time it’s all on her. And I feel sorry for her.

She had someone who accepted her. She had someone who respected her. I didn’t manipulate her into loving me. I didn’t treat her poorly. I believed in her. I desired her.

I loved her.

I’m not without fault, I know this. The success or failure of any relationship rarely rests on one person. But I didn’t want this break-up. She did.

There was nothing more I could do.

The battle to save the love of this girl? It’s over. I lost.

The war to find someone to go through life with? Well, Sam gave me hope that when it comes to fighting that war, at my worst I’m at even odds. At my best? I’m the odds on favorite.