Today has been a very troubling day. Two very different things happened to make it that way.
First, This afternoon I found out that early this morning here in Portland
, at about 12:30 am, a drunk driver performed a hit-and-run
on 3 bicyclists, killing 2 and putting the 3rd in critical condition. The driver was stopped by police 2 blocks later, dragging 2 bikes under the van, a front tire blown out and the windshield smashed.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. This, in Portland, voted 3rd best bicyling town in north america by Bicyling Magazine, or something. And this was not out in the suburbs, this was right over on 42nd and Belmont, where I bike all the time. It could have been me, or anyone.
I was spending all day getting ready for a gig I had tonite. More about that below. Despite the fact that I wasn't really ready, I went to the site of the accident (or should I say "massacre"?) at 6 or so, where a memorial action was taking place, organized by Shift, a bike organization I'm a part of. There were many people there, some holding huge signs that said things like "Cyclist Killed by Car Here".
I'm only beginning to understand the effect this has had on me. On my way home tonite I found myself looking twice at cars driving up behind me. Who knows when one is piloted by someone drunk and careless and, fuck, I'll go ahead and say it: Evil. Because if anything is evil it is a fatal hit and run automobile incident. Even if you're drunk, there's no fucking excuse for just driving on when you plow through 2 or 3 human beings. How could anyone do that? How? Anyone who does should be put in prison for a long long time...
Anyway, what was the second thing that pissed me off today? It seems to pale in comparison, but I will talk about it anyway. The gig I mentioned that was tonite - it turned out to be the most unsatisfying and annoying musical experience I've had in a long long time. It ended up being an ad hoc group improv thing, which isn't inherenly bad, but the people who ended up playing just did not gel. Most of the others did not know how to listen and stop playing. They all pretty much just played all the time, constantly. It was so horrible. Just a giant wall of noise. no finesse, no subtlety, no space. I just sat and waited for most of the time, waiting for some moment of quiet where it would make sense for me to do something.
Furthermore, they just had the PA system turned up way too loud. During the last piece it was actually physically hurting my ears. This is not only because of pure volume but because the digital, superbright sounds that modern electronic instrumentation can produce is very very piercing and potentially dangerous to the human ear at high levels. It literally was hurting, so I stopped playing and plugged my ears for a few minutes. I took my fingers out of my ears in a little while and there was still this horrible blast of painful noise. So I just got up and left. I hung out outside till the piece was over and then I came back in, walking back to my computer and remarking to Scott, "way too loud." I know Scott so I knew he would take it graciously, but this dude Todd that was also playing evidently took it personally or something, because he replied, "fuck you, man". I regret that I did not respond to this. It's one of the many times where I just didn't answer when someone is out of line. Maybe because I was out of line in the first place, but not enough to warrant a "fuck you." If the guy really doesn't understand how loud it was and how bad that is, then he's just a clueless fuck. God I really wish I had said something. What a stupid asshole.
Maybe I sound like some old fuddyduddy but I don't care. If you're younger than me and you think you're a cool musician cuz you can "turn it up to eleven", great, cool, I'll see you in 10 years when you have tinnitus. I know people with tinnitus. I know someone who has to wear heavy duty protective headphones whenever he goes to a show because any loud sound causes unbearable pain. This is because he played in a show with another artist who refused to turn down to a reasonable, non-pain-inducing volume. Can you spell "permanent damage"?
The show was just BAD too. I apologize if any of you were there because I invited you. If I were you I would have just walked out after 5 minutes. It was so fucking bad. Plus it started like an hour and a half later than I told you it would, because someone told me it started at 8 but it really was scheduled for 9.
Of course none of that really fucking matters when 2 bikers are dead today because of a stupid fucking drunk motorist.