My Daily Day

Thursday, September 30, 2004

On Thursday, September 30, 2004
he watched the presidential debate. "I don't understand how you can take yourself this seriously," said President Bush after a gaping thirty second pause. "Do you really think . . . that the average audience member cares to . . . think about you watching the presidential debates?"

"Senator Kerry, 90 seconds to you," said the moderator. "First of all, and my stance on this issue has been consistent. The threat of pretension and solipsism is a very real threat to artistry. But it's how you deal with that threat. You go in with a plan, you seek a coalition, involving allies and influences, you define a central metaphor. You talk about mixed messages; my opponent here has distracted and diverted attention from the true threat to genuine cultural expression: excessive self-consciousness. Now I don't care whether you play accordion or tambourine, but I'm telling you that in order to secure the lasting significance of your message you must tie it to something universal, something broad and constant in the human condition that will continue to resonate with audiences indefinitely. President Bush, I don't believe, has a plan to do that. I do. If we involve foreign substances in the creative process, if we train and equip new musical forces, I believe we can begin withdrawing motives from the realm of narcissism within six months. As your president, "ll do everything to ensure this happens. Help is on the way."

"That's 30 seconds to you Mr. President"

"Well, we know, I know . . . I know who the enemy is. I know how the world works. I've seen it you just . . . they're fighting vociferously because they hate rock music."

On Wednesday, September 29, 2004

he climbed onto the roof of the Memorial Union for a better view of Yo La Tengo. After fifteen minutes, a building manager kicked him off.

On Tuesday, September 28, 2004

he was halfway back to Madison before he realized he was still wearing her scarf.

On Sunday, September 26, 2004

he hopped on his bike, coasted down Ivanhoe Dr., pedaled up a trail and came out in rolling farmland south of Fitchburg. The sun hit the countryside in a lateral yellow wash. Maybe it was the hint of autumn in the air, the crisp cloudless blue. Maybe it was the backlit tops of corn stalks marching in rows to the horizon. Maybe it was how he climbed a hill and pressed his face into the earth beneath an elm tree, the smell of damp soil. Maybe it was the sense, with his back flat against the grass in some farmer's shaded pasture, that he could feel the rotation of the earth, he could feel all 73,000 mph through space. But he listened to the buzzing pulse of insects, lazy specks of light, and heard the great silence beyond it, the massive cradle of simultaneity, New York and St. Petersburg and Buenos Aires all out there somewhere teeming in that vast silence, everyone and everything a partner in the present tense, and his heart broke for Wisconsin and its lonely insignificance. He wondered about death and hoped for neither heaven nor hell, but merely an eternal understanding, an expansion of the self to encompass all existence, a unity with the great watchful silence that holds the universe.

On Wednesday, September 22, 2004

he handed out Kissers fliers on Library Mall, on a sun warm, sky blue afternoon. The handing out of fliers is a street level study in anthropology.

The Non-Reaction - passerby keep eyes averted, walk quickly to avoid detection.

The Polite Decline - "No thanks." The Scoff - "Uh yeah, no." Or, in response to an inquiry as to their appreciation of Irish themed music, derisive giggling, followed by "Yeah right. You must be joking."

The Piqued Curiosity - "Irish music? Well . . . (looking at flier with profound bewilderment) Yeah, I do. Thanks!"

The Enthusiastic - "Hell yeah, that sounds great." in response to said inquiry.

The Polite Acquiescence - Usually just a nod, smile, or brief thanks, take the flier and keep moving.

The Bandwagon Phenomenon - This involves a crowd walking in the same direction. Sometime the first two or three just grab a flier out of hand, no words necessary. In which case, everyone in the crowd grabs a flier, no questions asked. A sort of local attraction, mob mentality is in play here. In this manner, a humble accordion player can dispense of ten or twenty fliers in a matter of seconds.

On Monday, September 20, 2004

he took a midnight walk through Fitchburg. He tried to find the base of a radio tower, the red lights standing sentry over the horizon, but it proved to be beyond his reach.

On Sunday, September 19, 2004

he lay in the back seat of the Kissers van, headed back from Madison, listening to the Packers game on the radio. The weather was turning, the sky its open autumn blue, on this first fall without school, and he fell asleep dreaming about high school cross country meets and fresh air in his lungs. He can't, for the life of him, remember what he did with Sundays in high school. By the time the van reached Madison, he had an Elliot Smith song stuck in his head. Say Yes.

On Saturday, September 18, 2004
the following conversation occurred with a man eating pizza fries at O'Gara's in the Twin Cities. PFM: So, you in the band?
Pete: Yep.
PFM: So what's with the Irish thing? I mean, why not something more international?
Pete: Well, a lot of us have Irish ancestry.
PFM: So, how Irish are you?
Pete: A quarter. (He lied. He's an eighth.)
PFM: So this is a heritage thing?
Pete: No, it's just a style of music we've chosen to focus on, like white guys playing jazz or something.
PFM: So do you expect to be successful doing this?
Pete: Well, we are kind of successful in a modest way. I mean, we have a booking agent, and we tour constantly.
PFM: So, (all his questions began with so) what kind of audience are you expecting to reach? I mean, who do you think this will appeal to? Old men? 14 year old girls?

On Wednesday, September 15, 2004

he say at the Landmark, in Milwaukee, drinking beer and talking with a good friend.

On Tuesday, September 14, 2004

he met Denzel Washington's German voice. The voice belonged to Hans Stein, of Stuttgart, who works for a subsidary of MGM dubbing English language films into German. Consistency is important in this business. German audiences must hear the same voice coming from actors and actresses from film to film, the same Julia Roberts from Mystic Pizza through Erin Brokovich, the same Jack Nicholson from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest through As Good As It Gets. "Times are tough," said Hans, in English. "So many German's speak English these days that dubbed movies have becoming no longer necessarily."

On Monday, September 13, 2004
the lights turned green for him as he drove across Madison, slowing past his old house on Chestnut Street out of some perverted sentiment, and would have stopped but for some goddamned SUV tail-gating him -- And are your fucking brights on? -- then to the Crystal Corner to watch the Packers but what he really wanted was to walk, and keep walking across town, under the streetlights on the empty familiar sidewalks, into the dark countryside, walk until he was old and understood things, stripped of all motives and self-deceptions and emptied of all but the ability to observe and understand.

On Sunday, September 12, 2004
he had difficulty eating, possessed by the odd notion that the pizza had befriended him, that he was betraying its trust.

On Saturday, September 11, 2004
an older woman approached Pete after a short show in Madison and said, "Listen, my friend is really good at the accordion. Can she come up on stage and play a song really quick?" Pete suppressed several impolitic responses, finally replying "Uh, we have to pack up and leave pretty soon."

On Friday, September 10, 2004
he hoped that she would come to the show. She came to the show.

On Thursday, September 09, 2004
while walking down the sidewalk, he heard the man in front of him mutter, under his breath, "I could have fought it."

On Wednesday, September 08, 2004
he repeated the word fidelity until it no longer meant anything.

On Tuesday, September 07, 2004
he thought of a friend in Milwaukee, and thought, "I am helpless to prevent the suffering of those around me."

On Monday, September 06, 2004
he took a hot bath. When he was sufficiently light headed he kicked the drain open with his toe. As the receding water exposed his nudity, he wondered, would this be hard to explain if someone walked in?

On Sunday, September 05, 2004
he received a postcard that read, "I am a spastic knee-ed, unwieldy robot who occassionally leaps further and straighter than anyone has ever leapt."

On Saturday, September 04, 2004
he tried to watch Reefer Madness but turned it off halfway through. He knew the movie's content probably went unquestioned, all those conservative and misguided decades ago, that the evil of marijuana was accepted as fact. He doubted the American public had grown any less naive, and wondered what lies were currently in fashion, swallowed whole.

On Friday, September 03, 2004
a woman approached Pete during a break in Aimes, Iowa, and told him that the accordion always reminds her of "Revenge of the Nerds." Pete promptly ended the conversation with the business end of a nearby gumball machine, right across her head.

On Thursday, September 02, 2004
the citizens council expelled Pete from the city of Athens for ten years, on a humid afternoon in 434 B.C.

On Wednesday, September 01, 2004
he stood face to face with a young Bob Dylan and thought of nothing to say.