I may be deceased in the near future, so it’s important for me to let you know that out of twelve years of Youtube, this is my only liked video. Wherever you are, thanks for filtering god out of gold.
@LoadsOfToads I was here, as they say.
Randy the Redneck:
you still good?
For anyone curious, to save you the question, it’s health issues and not a Clams Casino situation.
Also, because you might be wondering “Why has this person only liked this one video in twelve years?”, I’m going to summarize some relevant details.
I’m from Memphis, TN. Grew up with music all around, because my parents were community radio DJ’s for several years and played porch guitar themselves.
I was pushing 15 before AOL got into full swing, so I got to have a semi-adult life before internet culture took over. On top of that we didn’t even own a TV until I was about 9, but did have a pretty big library. So I used to read, a book a day lots of months. That part’s relevant because at the point YT came on the radar, I was 26 and had pre-established opinions about the internet that did not include leaving my digital crumbs everywhere. Ironically, here’s this comment. This would have also been through the days of audiogalaxy, napster, and so on.
I played in two bands in my teens, as a drummer. Was getting decent enough to take things seriously and intended to one day become a studio drummer, when my kit was stolen by my bandmate and pawned. $2500 pearl/zildjian 10-piece… couldn’t afford to replace it. Elizabeth Harris, Josh Summit, and Chris…Hodges (?) know who did it, because we were all in a band beforehand with the guy.
This caused me to turn back to guitar, which by that point I had taken lessons for, albeit not long. But before I could make inroads on that, my long-time girlfriend started scouting where she wanted to attend college. It ended up being Eugene, OR at UO. We visited with her family in ‘99 or ‘00 and enjoyed everything, talked, decided I would come out too because at that point we had lived together for years, been in very passionate, tumultuous love, and were seemingly on a path to eventual marriage. Her mother gave me a ring to give to her daughter, was how serious that was. Love you, Rebekah.
I had to leave because work was iffy and she was living on campus, meaning paying for an apartment was on me. Even as small as Eugene was back then, it was still about a 250% uptick in living cost because Memphis was, is, and likely always will be a dirty, bloody pile of abandoned rubble. When I came back to Eugene, I found out the hard way that she had become addicted to heroin. It ended badly after I offered help and she offered extortion at knifepoint.
So I ended up in Portland, which is another story. Then back to Memphis, where my lifelong friend Zach Johnston got me work. We had been inseparable as children. Whole weekends at each other’s houses, sporadic short visits through the week. Used to live on the same street, and he was the person who introduced me to the world, because he had a “normal” life, and I did not. I was home schooled, had one friend (Zach) and was reading at high school levels when I was 5. He went to public school and met people. I actually helped teach him how to read with a copy of the AD&D player’s handbook and the Games Workshop board game Talisman in 1986. We were both 5 at the time.
Zach is where this song comes in, sort of; I hadn’t heard it at all, but he put me on to “Windowlicker” because he had MTV. He also brought Autechre and Squarepusher into my life. This is when we were in our early teens, after his father died spending his last days on my family’s couch, sick with lung cancer in part due to agent orange exposure in Vietnam. Zach liked this music because he got into the rave culture in the mid-nineties, and the rave culture turned out to be full of drugs, and that’s why when he got me work in Memphis in late 2005 I ended up finding out later the hard way that he was addicted to methamphetamine.
His own mother was going to have him arrested because he wouldn’t stop drugging OR leave her house where he stayed rent-free, so I offered him a spot at my place, in the house next door to my parents’ house, which my grandmother had bought just before she died of bone and lung cancer in Baton Rouge, LA. She intended for me to have it but it didn’t end up that way because my parents needed rent money to stay afloat. Love you, Opal.
So Zach came to the house and immediately started inviting over his sketchy hook-ups, and I told him that wasn’t why he was there and not to do it. And for the first time in twenty years, this man I loved, this 6’2”, 200lb of muscle guy he had become, threatened physical violence on me; loomed over me, fists clenched, irrationally shouting that “I don’t tell him what to do!”
And I actually feared he was going to attack, because the meth was too strong for him to remember who we had been. So I said he was going to have to leave. He refused, and I went next door, informed my parents, and got to see my mother utter the words “By the love I have held for you since you were a child, Zach, you must go,” as if there were an exorcism taking place. And he left. I think he’s clean now, but we haven’t talked in a very long time. Love you, Zach.
Here we are at the house. My best friend Matthew Aaron Hughes lives there with me, brother of Leverett Byron. They were my brothers too then. Lev and I were in a band once, and creative powerhouses, and best friends. Then he started drinking all the time, doing cocaine, and just… drifted off. I don’t remember when we lost touch, but I’ll never forget a lot of what we did together. Thanks to him I grew into a love of extreme music, because he was always researching it. OLD, Merzbow, Pan-Thy-Monium, Blood Duster, Reed Q. Ghazala, Mr. Bungle, and on and on. Hundreds of artists. Still no Alberto Balsalm, but we’re getting there. Love you, Lev.
After Lev was preoccupied, somehow Matt and I ended up getting closer. I had told him by 2005 how much better Portland was. We decided to tour Europe though, and went for six months, landing in London on March 1st. That’s another story too, with things to tell every step of the way. Suffice it to say we basically lived out of a tent for 4 3⁄4 months of that and bicycled 800 miles across Germany and Holland while I street performed as a technical juggler. “Ein straßenkünstler”. We also lived on the side of Montjuic in Barcelona for several weeks.
After hearing Lev had been stabbed in the throat almost to death, Matt started wanting to come back stateside, and we wound up back where we started, where all the stuff I just mentioned happened, and where, sometime into 2006, I ended up going to a restaurant with (IIRC) Matt Young, the only guy I’ve poked in the butt and an all-around good person. That’s important because I have a well-developed sense of irony, and because while we were there, the expo noticed me as she brought my food because I was wearing the wrongest shoes to be in this fairly posh establishment, and she happened to be the kind of person who respected that.
As it so happened, she was also a friend of Lev’s (who got around) and wound up at his house, where we crossed paths again. Or maybe that happened before the meal, but either way, since I thought this young woman was extraordinarily beautiful and had a mystery of soul that I found incredibly appealing, I contrived to continue speaking with her.
I don’t remember how it happened, but I got permission to visit this elusive lady’s apartment. A little about her: Half Persian, Half Italian. Short, with curly brown hair and olive skin. Perversely prone to avoiding people, interested in interesting things, and lived alone except a white cat named Snowball that would grant headbutts from the kitchen countertop to its mistress, and eventually me. This woman’s name was Manijeh Feizkhah, and we fell in love. For the first time since the big explosion of ‘97-‘04 relationship, I felt deeply connected in ways that could have lasted a lifetime.
Short aside here: I’ve had plenty of sex. Had sex in Europe for two glorious weeks. Made plenty of love. Gorgeous, pretty, plain, ugly. When I say above that there was a connection, it’s not about that. If you’re wise, you’ve already figured out sex isn’t the best basis.
Somehow, against the odds, this fey creature had taken me into her life. To the extent that she said she’d like to live together. Now, Matt had been off in Gulfport or somesuch, helping security detail after hurricane Katrina, and I can’t recall what happened when he got back, but he was out of the house by this point. It coincided. So, yes, I said. Why not? Who wouldn’t?
And she wanted someplace in a nicer part of town, a full-on house. It was $900 a month, which back then was almost 2x a 1-bed apartment. Definitely 2x MY rent, but I sucked it up, because I had been working my ass off and saw no reason I couldn’t continue. Money would be tight, but we could make it work. She had a decent job. It’d be ok.
I don’t think she was there a month before she moved out.
Left me holding the year lease, no roommates, no clue what had gone wrong. She eventually said “You’re so angry”.
I don’t remember being angry, but I don’t remember even more her once trying to have a discussion about it beforehand. No precursory “I don’t like your temper” or “please don’t yell” or any such thing. If I ever did, it certainly wasn’t directed at her, because she never did anything to me.
So now we at last come to the relevant moment, which is that moment when she had spoken to me by phone many days later and said that she loved and missed me. And knowing how memory can play a person false, I suspect the next part has equal chance of truth or fiction, but it’s as I’ve chosen to remember it, so it’s as I’ll tell it to you.
We ended up at her old apartment, which she had arranged to keep some way or another, and were talking until late hours. And during that time, at some point a song was playing that I recognized having heard at her place before, something with a soothing, intriguing sound. And this time, I checked her laptop to see who it was, and it was Aphex Twin - Alberto Balsalm. Love you, Manijeh.
And so just of the barest bits I have given you here, the tiniest fragments of tale tellable by me in this moment of a life that has encompassed far more than anything just mentioned, I hope it becomes clear when I say that this video, of two disembodied hands skillfully creating an interpretation of something that has its own haunting poignancy even without having been attached to one’s affairs, is perhaps the closest representation of my soul that exists on film.
I am also sometimes just a pair of hands. I have held a guitar. My intellect appreciates translation, creativity, and craft. My heart calls for pure tones, rich warmth, and cradling; to be used appropriately. Richard D. James is a mythological figure, and I too have been a small power in the world. This set of hands is aloof. It has made something, given it to the world, and seemingly walked away. They wear black. I too have sometimes worn black and walked away. This video tells a story to me about things embedded so deeply that they are no longer foreign bodies. I am them, in part. Always was some.
I made it as short as I could. Cried a few times. That’s probably healthy. This snippet is 1⁄1000000 of a true experience. The people are real, you can find them if you search. I used to be an egomaniacal dramatist. Now I’m a ghostly set of hands.