Aug 31

Can you hear me now?

Sad GuyDear Black-Rimmed Spectacles Guy,

You know we’ve been seeing each other for quite some time, and it’s been great, really, but after several years of being a loyal customer, I have decided to leave you.

Don’t get me wrong, you’re almost always there when I need you, especially lately when I’ve stayed fairly close to the I-80 corridor between San Francisco and my home. You only leave me when I go places like the beach, the lake, work, and that insignificant area between say, Fresno and Los Angeles. I don’t begrudge your disdain of travel.

It’s not that you are a bit extravagant for me, but there was that period when your gift of a new Treo handheld cost me over $2100.00 in “networking” fees because the phone apparently needed to call you every 5 seconds… in all fairness, you did agree that was asking too much and forgave that debt, but only when I raised my voice. I’m sorry about that, by the way.

And it’s not just that we disagree politically, but you do spend an awful lot of money in contributions to Republicans, and very little to Democrats. I commend you on your contributions to Domestic Violence causes, it shows your compassion for women and kids, but I have trouble with the duplicity of making contributions to a war machine, and the kids that are now orphaned because of it.

I guess my major problem is your clingy need for exclusive committment. Seriously, it’s fanatical. I don’t mind the 2 year contract so much, I mean, you need some stability in your life, I get that. What bothers me is that even when we’re together you have to have ALL of my attention. You gave me this really cool phone that you promised me would connect to my laptop with bluetooth, so I could not only synchronize my address books, but would also allow me to connect to the internet if ever I found myself in an area without a wireless router around. You lied to me. The reality is that you blocked the cool features built into the phone, so that I would have to buy extra equipment (that didn’t work) and because you want me to spend even more money on your network, you have blocked the phone’s ability to connect to the internet, and insist that I use the phone’s tiny screen to try and access my email, or a web site.

You also don’t want me chatting with anyone over bluetooth, or sending files, or sharing music, or any of the other technologically advanced things that I know my phone is itching to do. You’re one jealous selfish bitch, you know?

I’m really sorry to tell you that I recently started seeing someone else, you know who. That’s right, that hot little number who always dresses in my favorite color, orange. He gave me this phone yesterday that is quite slick. I brought it home, and I didn’t even feel guilty when I got it turned on and it immediately struck up a conversation with my laptop. It’s not perfect, I have to send my contacts individually until my friends over at Apple get iSync updated, but it does in fact let me get online.

I’m afraid it won’t do any good to beg, because the decision has been made. I’m even getting the rest of my family to break up with you because I’m certain their love affair with you has grown cold, as well.

I wish you luck, and hope you will find it in your uniformed heart to forgive me eventually. It just wasn’t meant to be.

By the way, if you, or anyone you’ve shared this letter with needs my new phone number, drop me a note and I’ll give it to you.

Aug 31

The Record Contract; Part IV: The Gathering

I was pleasantly surprised when I first opened the door leading into the rehearsal studio. I was the first to arrive and could take in the quiet and bask in the heady smell of the polished wood floor. Delious and Jeff soon arrived with Jerimy Koeltzow and Doug Urie from Oklahoma. I was noodling around on the piano while they got settled in.

We sort of spontaneously struck up a Vince Gill song, “Go Rest High on that Mountain.” A beautifully haunting melody with traditional bluegrass-style harmonies. As we hit the chorus, Stephen Parker entered and joined in with his high tenor part. Matthew Hayes arrived adding a perfect third below my lead. Jerimy rounded out the bass, and Doug struggled to find his way in before stopping altogether, foretelling some issues we would have later in the studio. Doug was absolutely unable to find a harmony part. He could sing lead, he had a decent voice, but when it came to singing a different part, he was lost.

When the song was over, we realized that Delious and Jeff were staring openly at us. There was a moment of awkward silence before Delious spoke up and said, “Magic.”

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Aug 30

Stir Fry Kitty

Stir Fry KittyNo, it’s not a dish at that scary restaurant across the street… it’s this weeks “Featured Site.”

I’m actually quite pleased that Bianca signed up this week. I’ve been reading her blog for the past couple of weeks and think we could be friends for many reasons:

I am willing to overlook the fact that she does not like Sonic… one of my favorite fast food places on the planet. Really, if there’s a fast food meal better than the foot long cheese coney, tater tots, and a 5-gallon bucket of Cherry Limeaid, I haven’t found it yet. Too bad the closest Sonic to us is like 40 miles away… and in a town no one really needs to pass through.

Anyway, give her a click and say hi. I think you’ll enjoy her site. She lives in Tulsa, OK. And you know, UMB and I will be in Tulsa next week… Maybe we should look her up and meet for a drink. What do you say, Bianca?

Aug 28

On Writing About the Record Deal

So yeah, I’ve been working on the next installment of the story.

It’s hard to figure out exactly how structure the story, because there were several events happening at once, so you’ll have to pardon me while I work it out. Don’t worry, the story will continue, I just want to develop the proper story line.

I’m also plagued by additional problems, not the least of which is a dreadful memory of the exact order of events. I didn’t realize that I had blocked most of these memories, because they really were some of the best and worst times of my life. I feel a bit like I’m pulling off an old bandaid and staring at a gaping wound underneath.

Gross.

Coming soon, Part IV.

Aug 24

The Record Contract; Part III: The Phone Call

I’ve never been good at meeting people in bars. Some of you might find that surprising, because I am not a quiet or shy person. However, if you put me in a room with bouncing music, colored lights, liquor, and shirtless hunks, I find that it’s quite difficult to approach anyone and have any hope of them finding me remotely interesting without the ability to converse. I mention this as a preface to how I came to be in the company of Shane one Friday night.

Recent picture of ShaneI met him about three months before all of these auditions at what was the BEST club I had ever been in. The Connection in Nashville was at the time, the biggest gay club in the United States.* He was flat out gorgeous. He vaguely resembled a young Val Kilmer. You know how there always seems to be a guy in a crowd that everyone knows, and either admires or hates because he’s popular. That was Shane. He had his own entourage that would congregate around him. He’d make this easy because he would always stand in the same spot near the entrance to the dance floor.

I desperately wanted to be a part of this group. I was new in town, newly out, and I desperately needed some gay friends. I made it my mission to be his friend. It took several weeks of dancing near him and getting to the point where he would at least smile in my direction. If I noticed that he was heading toward the outside patio, I would make sure to move past him and get out there first, so I could at least hear his conversation, if not find the opportunity to talk to him. Ok, on reflection, it seems that I was sort of stalking him. Get over it.

Eventually, we became bar friends** and I looked forward to spending Saturday nights watching the best drag shows and dancing in a great club, and hanging out with Shane. I was working at the radio station and often scored tickets to concerts and other events. I invited Shane to one, I don’t remember which*** and we migrated into being actual friends.

I of course had a mad crush on Shane, but it was pretty clear early on that there was no chance of any relationship. I was just happy to have a great friend, and someone to take my mind off of Toby.

So it was a random Friday night and Shane and I had gone to dinner and decided to stop by the radio station to see my friend Scooter who was doing his weekly retro show on WRVW. On the way upstairs to the studio, I noticed my voice mail indicator on my desk was blinking.

I hit the speaker phone button and the following message came booming out into the spooky quiet of a normally busy office after hours:

Jeff: Hey Jester, Jeff here. Delious and I have made our final decisions on the project. Please meet us next Saturday morning at the studio. We knew immediately that we wanted you. You’re in. Congratulations! Call me if you have any questions.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much else that happened immediately after I hung up the phone, mostly because Shane almost knocked me unconcious hugging me, jumping up and down and screaming at the top of his (our) lungs. We danced around the room and screamed some more, and jumped up and down again… then ran upstairs to tell Scooter.

* There is no coincidence that Nashville is also home to the Baptist National Headquarters, and also the most adult bookstores per capita of any other city in the US.
**Similar to the Sidewalk Sale from the Even Though post, the Bar Friend is as far as I know unique to the gay community, you can have meaningful conversations, talk to each other for years, even exchange gifts, but you never see them outside of the bar… sometimes you don’t even know their last names, yet you count them as a “close friend.” I guess all that dancing and sweating together must afford you some familiarty. Maybe this happens at the gym?
*** It really sucks getting old.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Aug 23

The Record Contract; Part II: The Callback

I left the hotel right after I finished performing. If you’ve ever been in an audition situation, whether for acting, singing, or that special trick you can do with ping pong balls and a unicycle,* you can generally tell from the expressions on your judge’s faces how well received you were. It was impossible to tell how I did. The other auditioners who were in audience clapped politely, but Delious showed absolutely no expression either way.

I knew I had done pretty well, at least, I knew that I didn’t hit any sour notes, didn’t fuck up the guitar part, and didn’t forget any lyrics. That’s about as good as you can get, right?

I can’t recall how many days went by before I heard anything from Delious, or Jeff, his assistant. It was long enough that i had pretty much forgotten that the audition had happened, and was quite surprised when the message appeared on my work voice mail:

Jeff: Hey Jester, this is Jeff [Can’tRememberHisLastName] with Trijon Productions. I’m calling because we’ve reviewed all the tapes from the auditions and we were extremely impressed with your performance. We’d like to have you come back for a call back audition. We are only inviting 25 guys back, and would appreciate a call back to hold your spot. Thanks!

Of course I called immediately, and agreed to the time and place.

There were guys from Dallas, Oklahoma, Los Angeles, and Nashville at the callbacks. We were paired up and moved around into different groups like chess pieces. There was a lot of a cappella singing, I was asked to play the guitar and piano for some of the groups. Strangely, no one else was able to play.

I hit it off with a couple of the guys that were there, and tried to work my way into their groups when possible, Jerimy Koeltzow from Oklahoma, and Matthew Hayes, originally from Chicago, but now living in Nashville. I recognized Matt as the powerhouse singer who brought on the Rick Astley moment from the auditions. Matt and I could harmonize so well, it was though we had been singing together all our lives.

The day was pretty uneventful, there were long periods of time where we weren’t doing anything and other groups were singing for Delious and Jeff. They spent a long time whispering back and forth and changing the members in and out. There were more video cameras, and a few more people just hanging around that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the audition process.

Throughout the process, I noticed that one auditioner seemed to be favored by Delious. His name was Stephen Parker, and he was rarely out of sight of Delious. He auditioned and performed with groups like everyone else, but he seemed to have access to Delious that no other participants had.

After a fairly long day, I offered to take Jerimy out to dinner as it was his first trip to Nashville. He invited along his friend, Doug Urie, who was also from the Oklahoma auditions. I invited Matt to come along, but he bowed out.

I took them on a driving tour of the city, including 2nd Avenue, West End, Music Row and we grabbed dinner. Conversation was easy, as we grew up essentially in the same place. Oklahoma City is not so far from Joplin, or Kansas City. What I found most amazing was their complete naivety regarding the music business. They knew nothing of contracts, record deals, the role of managers, producers, record companies. I gave them the quickest American Music Business 101 course I could manage in a short evening.

We parted ways that evening with the intention of keeping in touch, regardless of the outcome of the auditions.

* Please send photos.

Aug 22

The Record Contract; Part I: The Audition

My conversation with Toby the other day brought up more than just memories of our relationship. It also brought up an old story that is as much a part of who I am today as being born.

Out of context, it probably means nothing to you, yet, but two lines of an instant message brought up a world of memories.

Toby: btw…when rascal flats came out i had to look twice to make sure that wasn’t you
Jester: ugh. they have my career

It was 1997 and I had been living in Nashville for around 8 months. I had a great job at the #1 Pop and #2 Country Radio Stations, 107.5 The River, and The Big 98WSIX. One of the new ads that got booked on WSIX went something like this:

Los Angeles Production Company is conducting a nationwide search for dynamic male vocalists for a new country project. Auditions will be held at [some hotel I don’t remember] on [Date? Got me?]. Call for information.

Devon O'DayI had heard the spot, but at the time I was still trying to get settled into my new life in a new state, with a great job, and I had just moved to my third apartment in eight months. I had also just experienced an emotionally devastating breakup with Toby. Yeah, I had come to Nashville with dreams of a becoming a star, but I realized that the number of incredibly talented musicians waiting to be discovered was staggering, and I just wasn’t ready to pursue anything.

My friend Devon O’Day changed my mind, and encouraged me to go to the audition. So I did.

Auditions were held in a large conference room, with a makeshift stage set up. There were probably 40 chairs facing the performers, filled with other auditioners. There was a guy in the back running a gigantic video camera, another guy in a suit with a cell phone glued to his head almost constantly. Sitting in the middle of the room was the “brains” behind the operation, Delious Kennedy.

Delious KennedyYou may not know Delious by name, but I can almost guarantee that any readers over the age of say, 15, are familiar with him. He was/is? in a band called All-4-One. They had a few big hits in the early 90’s, mostly R&B covers of country tunes. I Swear and I Can Love You Like That were the two inescapable songs that I’m sure you remember.

Delious had decided to get into the record production game, and with his contract with Atlantic Records, he had an inside track on successfully getting a new act signed. He wanted to put together a country version of *N’Sync or The Backstreet Boys, but without the awful choreography. Remember, it was the height of the Boy Band era. Back when Justin Timberlake was just that skinny white kid with the afro, and none of the Backstreet Boys had been to rehab.

He was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, a basketball jersey (Lakers? I don’t remember… it could have been purple or blue…) and a gigantic gold and diamond pendant in the shape of a “4.” His hair was cut in a fade, complete with those little lines that he paid someone to place there, but looked to me like the barber was suffering from hiccoughs.

I will admit, I didn’t recognize him at first, and when I did, I wasn’t nearly as impressed as most of the people in the room. I had just spent the last several months meeting everybody who was anybody in country and pop radio. And frankly, I preferred the country versions of their hits.

I had arrived early and immediately became worried. I have never really been plagued by stage-fright… and today was no exception; what worried me was the fact that I was the only person in the room carrying a guitar.

I watched guy after guy (some good, some who are probably still cooks at the Waffle House) go to the front of the room, stick a background tape (the precursor of today’s karaoke discs) in a little boombox and spend three minutes trying to convince the room that they were the best vocalist in Nashville.

Rick Astley, not the auditioner in question.One auditioner stood out from the crowd, he was short, dark haired with light eyes, and something about his confidence walking on to the stage made me sit up and pay attention. He opened his mouth to sing, I don’t remember what song, and this voice like Thor’s Hammer came out. It was a real “Rick Astley Moment.”*

Two more guys performed, and I was up. The guy running the show asked for my tape, and I told him I didn’t have one. He rolled his eyes and said, “so…. you’re gonna sing without music?” I may have forgotten to mention that I had a large black acoustic guitar hanging by a strap around my torso. I mumbled something to the effect of “I think I’ll try playing this guitar” but I am certain I was thinking, “Um, yeah, I’m going to sing a cappella, and this is just my newest piece of jewelry.”

I wrestled a stool into place, took a seat, introduced myself, and sang Bryan White‘s “Someone Else’s Star.”

Alone again tonight without someone to love.
The stars are shining bright so one more wish goes up.
Oh, I wish I may and I wish with all my might.
For the love I’m dreaming of and missing in my life.

You’d think that I could find a true love of my own.
It happens all the time to people that I know.
Their wishes all come true so I’ve got to believe.
There’s still someone out there who is meant for only me.

I guess I must be wishing on someone else’s star.
It seems like someone else keeps gettin what I’m wishing for.
Why can’t I be as lucky as those other people are?
I guess I must be wishing, on someone else’s star.

I sit here in the dark and stare up at the sky,
But I can’t give my heart one good reason why.
Everywhere I look it’s lovers that I see.
It seems like everyone’s in love with everyone but me.

* unusual phenomenon wherein the physical appearance of a person is completely incongruent with the voice emanating from them. Named for 80’s pop star Rick Astley, whose hits, “Together Forever,” “She Wants to Dance With Me,” and “Never Gonna Give You Up” I still swear were recorded by a large black man, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. See also: Anastacia, Joe Jackson, Marc Broussard and Joss Stone.

Aug 21

Vacation Plans

So it’s official, UMB and I will be heading back to the midwest for 2 weeks. We leave California on Sept 3rd, land in Tulsa Oklahoma, and return on the 17th.

Our tentative plans:

  • Visit my parent’s new property in southern Missouri.

Visit friends/family in:

  • Tulsa, OK
  • Joplin, MO
  • Nashville, TN
  • Dallas, TX
  • Wichita, KS
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Overland Park, KS

Time permitting, we’re gonna hit the beach around Destin, FL. Maybe even sneak over to Savannah, GA for a day or two. That’s a lot of ground to cover, but I’m up for it. I’ll have my laptop, so I’ll be able to post from the road.

If any readers out there are in these cities, drop me a note, it would be fun to meet you!

Aug 21

Welcome!

I’ve been around the house a lot lately, since a relapse of CFS struck a couple weeks ago. I’ve been writing a lot, not just here, but on a couple of other blogs that I contribute to, and even with an old fasioned pen and paper. It feels pretty good to do something creative again, even if the final products haven’t been my best work.

While I’ve been off, I’ve also been looking at the latest ways to promote websites and the many networks that have sprung up recently that drives traffic to sites. I’ve signed up with Blog Explosion, BlogMad and Bloggrrr.

I’ve seen a huge jump in daily hits… I’ve already doubled (plus some) the number of hits from last month, with a little over a week left in the month.

I don’t know how many of the folks that are hitting this site are actually reading anything, or enjoying themselves here, but I have to imagine that most of them read at least one post.

I just want to wave and say hello. Stop and stay a while, maybe drop me a comment or two. I’ve been visiting a lot of sites lately, and I make an effort to make a comment on any posts that I find particularly interesting.

There’s a new featured site this week… everyone give a shout out to Kelly. She’s got a wide variety of post topics, from being a “Mum” to recipes and random observations. After you’ve read a few posts here, give her a click too!

Aug 20

Instant Communication

An early phone design.Gone are the days when you would have to pick up a phone, lookup a number (unless you had it memorized), call, and hope that the person you are calling will answer… these days, you jump on your computer, fire up an instant messenger program and take your pick of who you’d like to talk to. Your friends show up as little “Hi, I’m Online” icons, you can chat away while doing a million other things and not come across as being rude. I can chat and simultaneously surf websites, look at porn, play music, and even write posts to this blog. Try doing that on the phone and you’re likely to start typing what you are saying verbally, the other party is unlikely to be able to follow along, and frankly, most of your friends don’t want to know what kind of porn you’re watching. Well, ok… MY friends do, but I have weird friends.

Some added benefits of the instant communication generation:

  • ability to convey in two or three characters a complex emotion, such as, πŸ™‚ , :D, or πŸ˜› etc.
  • ability to pause the conversation and pick up where you left off with a “brb”, “smoke break”, or “afk a sec”.
  • ability to save and re-read the conversation at a later time. This is my favorite, as it allows to me to post stuff like this:

What follows is an excerpt of an instant message conversation I had with Toby* yesterday:

Toby: how do i log on to jestertunes to leave a comment?
Jester: you should see a “register” button
T: i see admin about contact and photo album
J: Hi, btw. πŸ™‚ Umm… click on the comments link under the post you want to comment on, and it should walk you through it
T: ok, i think i’ve figured it out
T: brb
J: ok
J: you don’t show up on my buddy list. you must be invisible πŸ˜€
Toby connected (5:29:33 PM)
T: how’s that?
J: yep. you’re there now
J: you also successfully registered on the site, i just got the notification
T: yipee
J: heh. that’s right, you should be excited.. you’re in elite company.
J: I have literally tens of readers. πŸ˜€
T: LOL
J: I’m being quite gay today… watching an Audrey Hepburn movie marathon.
T: i’m just looking up music for my ipod and checking e-mails
T: one song we didn’t mention the other night is “Imagine”…I still love that song
J: John Lennon?
T: yeah
J: Yeah. I love it. How about the Seal album
J: We listened to that a lot…
J: Kiss from a Rose
J: My ipod has gotten a recent update of stuff I hadn’t thought of in quite a while.
T: lol
T: you look good. You’ve lost a lot of weight and cut all of your hair. I like it
J: thanks…. the hair has grown back some, not sure what i’m going to do with it.
J: You look exactly the same.
J: (which is good of course)
J: well… there’s the magic disappearing/reappearing moustache
T: lol, i always get that….or OMG you look totally different….lol
T: rofl
J: that’s funny… I mostly get “I would have never recognized you.”
T: brb…smoke break
Insert 5 minute pause here.
J: I don’t remember ever using your name in a less than flattering way in the past, by the way. (just saw your comment)
T: right….

[snip] This part of the conversation I’ll share soon, which details my life in Nashville, the record deal, and subsequent move to California [/snip]

J: If I can find it, (and I end up seeing you next month) I have been saving something for you
T: would it be the letter i wrote?
J: lol.. no. I still have that but you’re not getting that back…
J: nor are you getting the total of 3 letters you wrote me while at basic. πŸ˜€
T: i just about lost it when i was reading your blog. i don’t remember writing those things.
J: oh there was more I didn’t put in the blog
T: i’m so sorry…that was very vendictive of me
J: Don’t sweat it.
J: You’ll see there are worse things that have been said to me in my lifetime ;D
T: likewise…but i didn’t need to be the one to add to them…that was so out of character of me. last time…i’m sorry
J: I completely forgive you. I know what the situation was… I knew it then…
J: water under the bridge that makes for a good story now.
J: So yeah, like I was saying I have to find it, but I have an autographed cd for you
T: now you’re making me wonder
J: ok.. ill play this little game:
J: the cd also includes a personal note from the artist
J: that says, “Toby – your loss is my gain.”
T: is it your cd?
J: no
J: An artist that you really liked (and *I* really liked) that I ended up dating for a short time.
T: one of your ex’s?
T: who?
J: he was super cute, shared my birthday (though he was one year older) and I used to play his songs on my guitar all the time.
T: omg…
T: country, right?
J: yep
J: i like this game
J: πŸ˜€
J: did you figure it out?
T: NO!
T: that was too long ago
J: here: [link to artist’s webpage]**
T: You know something? I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing that.
T: you suck

The conversation went several different places as it continued… and I think it will make a good backbone to flesh out some of the stories that I want to tell here, so look for more excerpts in later posts.

*He gave me permission to use his name.
**Don’t ask me, I won’t tell you who it is. I’m crude, but I’ve still got SOME class.