Tiny, little flickerings


I play music in a place called Bedrock, L.A.

It’s in Echo Park.

I play music in a part of town with Echo in its name.

I think Bedrock used to be some sort of factory. There’s an old-timey conveyor belt installed next to the metal stairs that lead to the second floor. Rob told me you can put your gear on it and it will convey it to the top for you.

I didn’t believe him. I think it doesn’t work.

Bedrock has dozens of practice rooms. It also has a game room with pinball, video games and air hockey and a professional recording studio. There’s a front office where you can buy strings, rent gear and pay a dollar for shitty earplugs.

I always pay a dollar because I always forget where I left my shitty earplugs I bought the last time.

My favorite thing about Bedrock is when you first walk in. The parking lot is full of cars. If you park behind a car you have to let the office know where you will be so you can move if the person in front of you needs to leave.

All of the cars are beat up and old. That’s how you know real musicians come here.

You see all sorts of people hanging out at the picnic tables on the loading dock. Grunge guys, death metal, electro-pop. folk, and even some traditional mexican music groups. They all hang out and smoke and drink and are pretty friendly.

I like saying hi to whoever’s there, but that’s not the best part.

The best part is walking to our room.

Our practice room is on the second floor, so we have to carry my gear through the labyrinthine first floor, up the stairs and then through the long hallways of the second floor until we finally get to room 85.

Since bedrock is predominantly a practice space, none of the rooms are very sound proof. You can hear everything everyone is playing. All the sounds, the rhythms, the melodies, the lyrics. You can hear the collaboration and the fights. The arguments and the “dude, that was sweet”s.

You can hear the music.

That’s not my favorite part.

My favorite part is imaging what’s behind the door.

Who’s in the rooms.

I carry my amp past an orange door. Electronic music that sounds like a west coast CHVRCHES blasts through the cracks, and then , as if through a porthole, I see two women standing at synthesizers.

They’re dressed in ragged tank tops, black and white, and have half their heads shaved. One of them wears a lot of bracelets. The other one has tattoos.

They bob up and down with the music, turning knobs and pressing buttons in perfects synchronization. They never look at each other. They don’t say anything. They’re familiar with each other. More than familiar.

The song ends and the hug. It’s a familiar hug. More than familiar?

They might kiss then, but I don’t think they do. They’re too excited. The new track rules. I heard it through the door and I agree. It does rule.

They laid on their ratty, red couch the light before. Bracelets’ head was in tattoo’s lap. Tattoo had a legal pad and they were writing down lyrics.

Lyrics or poetry? What’s the difference. I’m not sure.

They’re not fighting. Not this night. They’re synchronized, just like they will be the night before. Tattoo says something funny and bracelets hits her. It’s a gentle hit.A familiar one.

The music…

It reminds me of a time I stood on top of a giant rock in St. Andrews, Scotland. I wore a trench coat and a red scarf. It was a nice day and so I my coat unzipped.

I hated zipping it up. My coat was tan. I always thought people would think I was a flasher.

There were just enough clouds in the sky to be gorgeous and I looked along the coastline.

My, how different it was from Florida. Florida is full of things, and it’s beautiful because of them. Scotland is full of nothing and beautiful because of it. A friend of mine once got mad at me because I told him Scotland was more beautiful than Hawaii.

“Hawaii has palm trees and waterfalls and volcanoes and is green! It’s gorgeous. What does Scotland have?”

“None of that,” I answered. I took a bite of the Thai red curry I was eating.

“Exactly,” He said. I think he crossed his arms.

“Exactly,” I agreed. He made a face, and I smiled.

They start up a new song and my hand gets tired. I shift the amp to my left arm and keep going.

I pass another door. Drums blast through the cheap wood. A syncopated beat. Bum bum bum BAP bum, bumbumbumbumbum BAP bum. Ratta ta tatta ta tatta ta bum bum bum BAP bum, bumbumbumbumbum BAP bum.

I hear the clack of sticks slamming down on the snare’s rim and someone yelling “fuck”.

He’s got long hair, not because he likes it, but because he doesn’t have time for hair. He doesn’t have time for anything except his job. That’s why he’s somehow both thin in some spots like his arms but overweight in other spots like his waist.

He’s an accountant and he’s been putting in the extra hours because Kate had told him there was talk of giving him a promotion. He stayed at his desk so late for so long that the light bulb burned out of his lamp. The whole office was dark and he had to wander around using his phone as a flashlight until he found the office supplies and got a new light bulb.

He could only find a fluorescent. He hated the slightly green light it throws over his spreadsheets, but he knew that he’d have his own office soon and could put whatever lights he wanted in there.

His girlfriend wouldn’t stop calling him. He didn’t answer. He had to get the spreadsheets done. He just avoided her.

He couldn’t avoid her when he got home at two AM. Well, he didn’t actually see her. He saw her note, though, and the angry, jagged writing. He saw the wet spots on the paper, and he went into the bathroom and saw the extra space, saw that half the sink was now empty, saw a small colony of bacteria that until three hours ago was hidden by the charging station for her electric toothbrush.

He took the next day off work and rented out a practice space.

He hadn’t played drums for years.

Not since high school, when he and his friends would sit in the attic and smoke weed and listen to led zeppelin in the dark and dream about the future. It was easy back then. It was too easy. All he did was dream.

He bangs on the drums so hard I worry he’s going to pierce the floor tom’s head.

That’s none of my business, though.

Hell, it might not even be real.

Rob and I make it up to our room and we play our hearts out. The stress of the week melts away. I float in the freedom of not worrying about my book, not worrying about my bills, not worrying about if I never make it as a writer, not worrying about being single, not worrying about getting my teeth fixed, not worrying about anything but rhythm and scales and math and tone and fuzz and fucking crushing heads.

Rob and I come up with a new song and, from that song, come up with what we actually want our band to be. “It’s black Sabbath mixed with Zep mixed with Pentagram and Graveyard and High on Fire.”

“Basically everything we like,” I agree.

“It’s like party music for the seventies,” Rob says, “but at a cool house party.”

“I want people in pool halls to fight each other when this song comes on,” I agree.

“What?” Rob makes a face.

“But in a cool way,” I clarify.

He laughs.

There’s a knock on our door.

I open the door. A scary ogre stands in front of me. He’s got a beard down to his belt and a shaved head. Leather vest and wife beater. Tattoos everywhere.

He does a quick double take. I just stare at him.

“You guys sound good,” he says.


“You don’t really look like what I thought you’d look like.”

Rob and I look at each other. “How’d you think we’d look.”

He shrugs. “I was listening at the door. I didn’t want to interrupt the jam. Just thought you’d look… different.”


“You parked behind me. Could you move your car?” He asked this in the nicest way possible.

Rob nodded.

The tree of us left the room and walked down the long hallway and through the labyrinth below. Music drifted all around us. We’d sometimes stop and listen at the doors, each of us imagining a different thing behind them, but each of us enjoying the same music.

We didn’t say anything.

We just shut our eyes and listened.

Listened in the dark of our own eyelids.

Listened and dreamed.

Led Zeppelin

Forever alone

It’s surprising how much people in our modern society rely on the Internet for, well, everything.  I for one use the internet as a thermometer, weather balloon, television, phone book and generally to entertain myself in any way I see fit.  I love the internet.  I need the internet.  Therefore, I was disturbingly distressed when I awoke this morning to the sounds of birds chirping and butterflies…chirping outside my door and booted up Google chrome on my Mac book, and discovered that none of the web pages loaded.

I pressed refresh.


“No…no!” I muttered under my breath.  I swiftly turned my computer’s wifi off and on again, attempting to reconnect to the network.  I had full bars.  I hungrily pressed refresh.


“DEAR GOD NO!!!”  I screamed, running over to the counter that held the router and modem.  I fumbled around furiously with their power cords until I finally disconnected them from the wall, tearing some sheetrock off in the process.  I counted to three in the amount of time it normally takes for me to count to ½ and plugged them back in.  Lights lit up.  I grinned madly

“yesyesYes FUCK YEAH!” I howled as more lights burst forth, like when Hugo Weaving opened that Norse box thing I Captain America.  To the passerby it would have seemed as if someone was shining a green and orange flashlight upwards under my chin, distorting my maniacal face to monstrous proportions.  I flew back to my computer and mashed refresh like 50 times.


“bwaaa bwaaa bwaaaa bwaaaa BWAAAAAAH!” I blabbered madly as I attempted to beat the internet into submission with my head via my keyboard.  But the internet feels no pain…

What was I to do?  Logically, I should call Sprint or whoever it is that provides me with sweet, sweet internet, but how was I to get their number without Google?  Wait!  That’s it I thought My Iphone!  That’s it.  I roughly grabbed it and searched “sprint internet help call now please god please.”  After 10 seconds the page was only 1/20000th loaded.

IT’S TOO FUCKING SLOW!!!!” I screamed, hurling my phone through the sliding glass door which shattered into a million glittering pieces.  I collapsed into a heap and wept.

After some time I stood up and got on my computer.  I hit refresh.  Nothing.  Now what am I supposed to do the whole day?  Listen to iTunes?  Take pictures of myself in photobooth?  Play the Sims 3?  Wait… the Sims 3.  Hmmmmm.

The sims, for those of you who don’t know, is a game where you create a character, or characters, who live out a fake simulated life, down to the horrifyingly smallest detal, like pooping, and you “somewhat” control.  But they are kind of really stupid children: they can’t do anything actually important by themselves.  You have to tell them to make their food etc.  Oh, and they whine.  This games kind of a pain in the ass…

I started the game and immediately started making a new sim.  I decided that this guys was going to be as bad and as I feel without the internet.  This guy was going to suck.  Fat, balding, near-sighted and sporting a styling soul patch, he was well on his way to being the worst sim ever, but I wasn’t done with him yet.  Oh no.  In the sims 3, you get to pick 5 personality traits for your sim.  These can be good or bad, but you only get 5.  I chose, not surprisingly, all bad ones: neurotic (he freaks out over nothing), slob (no explanation needed), loser (bad shit happens to him all the time), inappropriate (he always be doing awkward and inappropriate things) and grumpy (see slob).  For his life long dream I chose becoming a chess master, the loneliest of all the options..  His name?  Forever alone.

In case you don’t know the forever alone meme, a link can be found here.  You only need to read the first part.  It’s pretty much comics of something depressing happening.  The final panel is always that picture, captioned “forever alone.”  He looks like this


And here’s how most of the comics go:

I decided to buy a premade house for Mr. Alone, but I wanted to furnish it myself.  Unfortunately, as soon as I bought the damn thing all the pipes in the house burst and there was extensive water damage.  This was a random event the computer creates.  I could tell this was going to be a good game.  Fortunately, Forever’s neighbor was a plumber and he decided, out of the kindness of his heart, to come over and help.   Forever, being perpetually grumpy, insulted his mother until he left.

Forever cleaned up the mess himself and then went out to find a job. At the graveyard. Not surprisingly, he got it. The job started at 6pm, so he spent the rest of the say exploring the graveyards catacombs by himself. He then went to work as a gravedigger. He has no co workers.Forever....aloneeeee

After work Forever, using what looked like a commodore 64 (it was the most terrible computer I could buy for him), went on the sim’s version of 4chan and posted some inappropriate thread and then went to sleep at 10.  He woke up at 8 and checked to see if anyone commented.  No one did, nor would they ever in the countless other posts I had him make.


So far my game was going swimmingly.  I was feeling much better about my lack of internet.  Mr. Alone continued to work at the graveyard, getting promoted twice and earning far more cash than ever!  He could finally start to afford nice things, like telescopes!  Unfortunately, the game informed me that I forgot to pay his bills and a repo man was coming over to take the nice things (telescopes) I just bought for him.  I had him run to his mailbox and pay the bill, then go inside and make some breakfast.  The repo man, who turned out to be a woman, arrived moments later and entered his house.  Forever went up to chat with her, since she was the first human being he had seen in nearly a fortnight that wasn’t his boss or dead.  She, in turn, stole his computer and bath tub (yes, his fucking bath tub!  She just picked it up and put it in her sack of stolen goods!) then left without saying a word.  I had no more money to replace those taken items, since I had tried to pay the late bill.  My sim took sponge baths in the kitchen sink from then on.

If you remember, I had selected “become a chess master” for Forever’s lifelong dream.  In order to become one, forever must defeat an evil cabal of other chess players.  To simplify it in terms that all of my readers are familiar with, it’s like the gym system in pokemon.  I therefore purchased him a table and, with no previous experience playing chess invited the chess person over, wondering at the outcome.  The successfulness of all activities in the Sims are calculated based on skills.  Skills can correspond to many different activites, the higher the better.  I had gotten Forever’s logic, the chess skill, up to 7 out of 10, which is pretty high.  He should have been able to beat his opponent handily.  He lost seven matches in a row, whereupon his opponent said she was leaving because she was just too damn bored.  Apparentally forever wasn’t smart enough to win at, well, anything.  He cried himself to sleep.


After some more time playing I learned that your sims apparently have some numbers saved in their phones of stock characters who they are “acquaintances” with.  I excitedly planned a party for the next day, inviting all of them.  Perhaps Forever Alone was not doomed to be forever alone after all.  That night a thief broke into his house and stole all the furniture and his TV.  The guests arrived the next day, but stayed no more than a few minutes before they made frantic and halfhearted excuses and left.  I suppose they had no desire to attend a party hosted by a creepy gravedigger with no drinks or food in a house with no furniture.

Angered by their insolence, I invited all the sims over again, and had Forever Alone lead them into the extra room.  He then ran out and shut the door, which I promptly removed from the house creation panel, so that the party guests were effectively trapped at the party.  Forever.  I then put some windows in between the kitchen and spare room Forever could talk to the people trapped within.  For once in his miserable life, forever wasn’t alone.  They all died of starvation a few days later, and haunted the fuck out of the house.  Yeah, they actually turned into ghosts.  Forever was forced to move to a smaller, worse house farther from work with even less stuff inside.

God...how many times can i have the same picture in one post?

After a while I felt like I needed to get out of the house, so I went to Starbucks.  When I got back, I just couldn’t stay interested in the game.  What else was there to do?  I pretty much beat it.  I decided to check the Internet again.  Nothing.   Worse still, I had closed out of the sims without saving.  I shut my computer and proceeded to stare blankly out the window into my backyard.  No birds flew by.  No butterflies fluttered lazily in the heat.  No squirrels danced playfully in the trees.  Nothing.

I checked my phone.  No calls, messages or texts.  I stared out the window some more, all the while wondering if maybe, just maybe, I too would become….

Once more, apparently

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